At midnight on Monday, July 8, PLAN sent the following press release announcing the public launch of the project!
A successful student-led initiative to reduce waste at the University of New Hampshire will be coming to other campuses beginning this fall thanks to a new nonprofit called PLAN: The Post-Landfill Action Network. PLAN is a national expansion of the Trash 2 Treasure (T2T) program at the University of New Hampshire, a student-led project that reduced move-out waste by collecting usable goods and reselling them at a yard sale over move-in weekend. Recent UNH graduate Alex Freid, who co-founded the T2T program at UNH, founded PLAN to help students at other schools develop similar programs on their campuses. Freid, PLAN’s executive director, said that the group’s goal is “to make the very concept of waste obsolete.”
PLAN brings an innovative model which combines micro-financing, buyer/vendor cooperatives, and student leadership. They work with student groups on campus as well as university administration and sustainability offices through three phases. In Phase 1, PLAN provides start-up funding to student groups to help them launch new move-out waste collections and yard sales. PLAN organizers provide close support and training to student leaders to help get these programs off the ground. Phase 2, for campuses with existing move-out waste reduction programs, provides membership services that help students and universities expand and improve these programs. These benefits include consulting services, discounts on program costs, access to online resources and education, and other customized support. In Phase 3, PLAN guides students through a comprehensive campus waste audit to design new ways to reduce waste on campus year-round. The proceeds from the yard sale can be used to fund these initiatives and other sustainability projects like organic gardening or renewable energy generation.
PLAN is built upon the success of the Trash 2 Treasure program at UNH, now in its third year. To date, the program has salvaged over 100 tons of usable materials, recycled over 2,000 electronics, and donated over 5 tons of food and clothing to local shelters. They have also saved UNH over $10,000 in disposal fees and raised over $30,000 in program revenue, which has been reinvested into new sustainability initiatives on campus like an e-waste recycling program and a bikeshare service.
At its launch, PLAN has significant momentum. The group recently established a partnership with UNH to pilot Phase 3 waste reduction initiatives and conduct a full waste audit. PLAN was also awarded the $10,000 Samuel Huntington Public Service Award from National Grid in Massachusetts. Its team of organizers is spending the summer reaching out to schools in the New England area, and have already identified over two dozen universities who have expressed interest in bringing PLAN to their campus this fall. PLAN is also developing partnerships with multiple sustainable business in order to further reduce waste on the campuses they work with by aggregating hard-to-recycle materials like carpets and textiles.
As part of the effort to bring PLAN to a national scale, the group has launched an online fundraising campaign through the popular crowd-funding site IndieGoGo. Funds raised will go towards start-up costs for new PLAN programs at universities, the creation of resources for students like best-practice guides and waste and sustainability fact sheets, outreach to university sustainability groups, and expansion of PLAN’s network of sustainable business partners including trucking, storage, waste-hauling, composting and recycling companies. To learn more, get involved, and donate, visit their ongoing IndieGoGo campaign at: www.igg.me/at/PLAN.