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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.

Ananda Ganbari
Earlham College
Class of 2017
Free Store Manager

Ananda took the time to talk to PLAN about how the Earlham Free Store and Zero Waste movement tie into her big picture perspective on energy, resource extraction, and social justice. Thanks Ananda!

Who are you and how are you involved in the Earlham College Free Store?

I’ve been involved with the Free Store since the beginning. The Free Store acts as the home base of the Move Out Project at Earlham. Both programs are working towards not just reducing waste but also improving accessibility, which is one of the things that I think a lot of other sustainability efforts don’t focus on.

Accessibility is one of my favorite things about the Free Store. Many ways we look at reducing waste requires buying something or having a lot of time. At the Free Store anyone can go there and grab something for free — students don’t have to buy notebooks and binders and you’re reducing waste in the process.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 11.38.35 AMWhat are the Zero Waste efforts on your campus?    

The Free Store and Move Out Project, of course. The Sustainability Office has a few main projects. Compost has been a big project as Earlham’s farm is going through changes. EcoReps act as sustainable ambassadors, they promote sustainable behavior through example.

How are you working toward Zero Waste in your life and on campus?

It’s hard for me to separate the two!  I try to follow the little tricks of using reusable water bottles and not buying a lot of new things or taking more than I need.

Mostly, I work on Zero Waste by being involved and proactive in organizations such as the Free Store and Earlham’s Responsible Energy Investment campaign.

I’ve been able to get people engaged with the Free Store beyond “Oh, cool. I get free stuff!”  but to also understand the larger implications of the Free Store. The ways in which they can avoid the cycle of buying and selling more and more.

Ananda_FreeStore JPG2What was your “Aha” moment?                                               

A significant transition for me was approaching sustainability less from a Climate Change side, which is very important, but also seeing the human impact that many unsustainable practices have.

On a trip to West Virginia, I remember sitting around the fire talking to people who lived in this community and had everything taken from them by coal extraction companies that were coming into their town and destroying their water. People were just being basically pushed out onto the street — these people are being overlooked.

What are the challenges that you have faced, what are you proud of, what are you looking forward too?

My largest challenge right now is saying no to more responsibilities! It’s hard to balance with my studies. However, many of these projects have tied in with my classes as a Peace and Global Studies major.

I’m proud of not just bringing students into organizations but also people I’ve seen grow. I’m proud of having part in their learning and involvement!

How will you carry what you have learned here into your life in the future?

I’ve been involved with unionizing efforts for the workers in our dining hall. I will likely continuing this work with Unite Here after graduation. I see unionizing as a form of sustainability work, even if most would not. The largest way of making profound change is working in your immediate community. I see reducing waste and organizing workers unions as ways to bring power to the community.