Transitioning Harvard to a Zero Waste campus is an aspirational goal and will require input and collaboration across all groups at the university. Members of Recycling and Waste Services, Environmental Health & Safety, and the Office for Sustainability are currently working with campus partners and stakeholders to develop a framework for School-specific plans to transition Harvard to a Zero Waste campus.
The Zero Waste Hierarchy establishes the most to least preferred methods of managing resources. As methods of waste prevention, the top tiers are the most preferred. They provide the highest use of materials and the most environmental benefit.
Rethinking, reducing, repurposing, and reusing are critical components of a Zero Waste system. They all involve source reduction, or ways that we can prevent waste from entering our systems to begin with. Opportunities to reuse on campus include the Recycling & Surplus Center, Freecycle events, and Fix-It Clinics, and local swap shelves. Reuse and repair prevent waste by extending the life of an item that would otherwise be considered waste and by preventing the inherent waste in making a new product.
See this student-made video for a great explainer on the value of reuse through the potential lives of a HUDS cup!