Green Campus’ Waste Subcommittee Achievements

by Caroline Costello

The Green Campus Committee has been putting forward lots of ideas this past year on how to make Trinity a more sustainable campus through the use of its subcommittees. Despite the restrictions the lockdowns held over us, the Waste Subcommittee hosted an online tutorial explaining what Ecobricks are and how to make them during Green Week. This workshop was set up with the hope that students and staff would start making their own bricks, which are made from plastic bottles filled with non-recyclable plastics. Following the workshop, the subcommittee set up a temporary bin collection point for them on campus. This bin can be found by heading towards Kinsella Hall and following the narrow passageway to the right, where you should find yourself facing Nassau Street beyond the wall as well as a row of bins. One of these bins will have an Ecobrick poster on it as well as the requirements for them such as weight, etc. There are also several other types of bins here that you should check out while you’re at it! 

The aim for the Ecobricks would be that both students and staff would continue to make them while also becoming aware of just how much non-recyclable plastic companies use and that we ourselves consume. Hopefully, this would encourage people to cut down on their plastic consumption while also lobbying for change in regulations on non-recyclable plastics by both organisations and our government. As plastics also have a great impact on our sea life, Seal Rescue Ireland was one of the organisations that spoke with the Waste Subcommittee about how Ecobricks can prevent these plastics from harming our sea life. During the workshop, they showed how Ecobricks could be used to make other objects such as garden furniture as well as art installations. The Waste Subcommittee would love to host another workshop with Seal Rescue Ireland and potentially others who promote upcycling waste in order to get more people involved with not just making Ecobricks but participating in collecting non-recyclable plastics, not just from their homes but from beach clean-ups etc., as well as making furniture and art from them on campus. 

bringing both staff and students of Trinity together to create objects of art through waste

The subcommittee has also been in touch with Trinity’s catering services to set up a rewards system where students receive a catering voucher in exchange for their Ecobricks and subsequently have a permanent collection point on campus for the Ecobricks. This could then continue to be used to make furniture and art. By bringing both staff and students of Trinity together to create objects of art through waste, could encourage the Trinity community to be more aware of not only the effects of plastic pollution but how it can be salvaged from waste to art and, in turn, encourage our community to lobby for change in the plastics industry.

Another scheme being set up by the Waste Subcommittee was the crockery and cutlery lending scheme Envirolend. Envirolend was set up in 2019 by what was originally the TCD Plastic Solutions group, which turned into the Green Campus’ Waste Subcommittee.  The idea behind the scheme was to reduce the amount of single-use plastics the societies and clubs of Trinity can often go through when hosting events. This way, our societies and clubs can borrow these items at a small fee and return them after their use. Thus, Plastic Solutions decided to order cutlery, cups and bowls all in metal so they would be more durable than ceramic. The brand of cups used is called Enviro-Cup, which is a reputable stainless steel company that works with festivals across the U.K. and Ireland. For the bowls, the brand is called Milestone, which makes their bowls from enamel, and the cutlery was bought from Nisbets. The next step was to find storage for the items. As UPS had just been established on campus with a focus on sustainability, the group decided to get in touch with them through Trinity’s Sustainability Advisor, Michele Hallahan, and they offered up a storage locker space free of charge. The goal behind the organisation of the scheme is that someone from the Waste Subcommittee keeps track of society bookings through emails and the form set up on Facebook, they collect the items and give them to the society. Then the society uses them, cleans them and then returns them to their point of contact. If anything gets lost or broken, then the society buys the replacement. However, funding was needed to get the scheme up and running, and so Plastic Solutions applied for the Provost’s Sustainability Fund who offered money to set up a pilot scheme. This is how the group was able to buy this initial small set of cutlery and crockery, which was trialled for one event before Covid put a stop to all society and club socialising, with the goal to apply for more funding once the scheme gets off the ground. 

The idea behind the scheme was to reduce the amount of single-use plastics the societies and clubs of Trinity can often go through when hosting events

You can sign up to borrow items for your events now by going to the Envirolend Facebook page and filling out the form or by emailing envirolendtcd@gmail.com. The Waste Subcommittee, as well as the other subcommittees, are always looking for more members to join Trinity’s move towards sustainability. If you have any ideas or suggestions of your own please do not hesitate to get in touch or fill out the sign-up form here

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