Campus Changemakers is our bi-weekly series highlighting the innovative people making change on their campuses. We bring you behind the scenes to hear about their projects, inspirations, and challenges.
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)
Student Government Director of Student Relations
This semester Nick is working a full time “Co-op” or internship to organize RIT’s first ever move-out program, “Goodbye, Good Buy,” with a fellow student, Nimrun Dhillon.
What are the Zero Waste efforts on your campus?
We have the “Zero Waste Arena,” which is trying to get to Zero Waste for all the Hockey games. Enid Cardinal, our Senior Sustainability Advisor, oversees five to six co-op students, who run sustainability initiatives, like this move-out program.
What was your “Aha!”moment? When did you decide to get involved?
Last spring, I offered to help Enid with move-out collections (the last day of move out) since no one else was doing it. They had tried to do a small collection program last year but it was very last minute because they didn’t have a lot of resources to do it at the time.
I went through three of our dorm buildings and just by myself dragged out thirty-two entirely full moving boxes full of … everything: TV’s, fans, clothing, food, just everything! I looked over and there were still ten dorms I hadn’t even touched that had closed already. I talked to facilities management and they said that they just throw everything out because they don’t have the resources to sort all of the items. I was thinking “what a huge waste” and then on top of that I was thinking of all the apartments…I saw what a monumental project it would be to salvage all of these materials properly.
Nim and I decided to go to PLAN’s Students for Zero Waste Conference and look into a move-out program there. I listened to the speakers and went to the Move-Out Workshop and just seeing the success the other schools had gave me a lot of hope that it could happen here. It made it less of a pipe dream for me. All the pieces were there, Nim was totally on board and I was totally on board so we decided to make it happen!
What are you proud of, what are you looking forward to?
Well, I’m looking forward to running my own thrift shop for a week!
I’m proud of the reactions we get to the program. No one has said it’s a waste of time. I’ve unanimously heard, “It’s a great idea for a program. Why hasn’t this program been done already?” Being in Student Government, I put a lot of effort into this kind of work and its great when everyone enjoys the work that we do, it really pays off.
I believe we are going to be the largest private university with a program like this. It’s such a step to reducing waste on campus — it’s amazing to me. In the long run this program could feed funds back into the sustainability department. I’m hoping to exceed expectations —I’m planning on exceeding expectations.
What are the challenges that you have faced?
We’ve run into some big challenges; some we still have to overcome but nothing that will stop the program. One of biggest problems is getting students who are already busy to volunteer, but people here right now are super dedicated to their work and already a lot of change is happening.
Anything else you want to share?
I think its important and a goal of sustainability to have people beyond Sustainability majors participating in the work we are doing here.
I also want to say that PLAN has helped me a lot with the initial thoughts and the encouragement that we can do this. I’m excited to contribute what we’re doing here back into the pool for other schools to learn from. I’m happy to contribute to something that I hope will be spreading nationally, and I know that’s something PLAN wants too.
Want to find out more? Check out Goodbye, Goodbuy’s Facebook page here!