It may be the end of Plastic-Free July, but it is not the end of being plastic-free in the MAS MBC program!
The MAS MBC program is proud to be a Zero-Waste program. We do not use or provide any single-use plastic or disposable dish-ware to students, guests, faculty or researchers at MAS MBC events.
Instead, when MBC students arrive at Orientation in June, they are welcomed with a “swag bag” of reusable goodies: a tote bag, metal water-bottle, reusable coffee-tumbler, a steel cup, a ceramic playa bowl, and a set of bamboo utensils, all with Scripps & MAS MBC logos to show our pride in providing these items.
At the many lunches, mixers, happy hours, and networking events throughout the year, MBCers bring their reusable dish-ware, as the program does not provide disposable alternatives. For guests attending events, we encourage them to bring reusable dish-ware as well. At the annual MAS MBC Capstone Symposium, we have our caterers provide china and reusable, washable dishes instead of any disposable or commercially-compostable products which typically end up in landfills.
“We know a small program like ours giving up on single-use plastic doesn’t move the needle in terms of plastic consumption and pollution. However, many people think it is not possible to host large, professional-events without single-use plastic. We are showing our students, our network, and our community, vendors, suppliers, and UCSD, that zero-waste events are doable, and that there is a demand for events to be less wasteful.” ~ Hannah Tannenbaum, MAS MBC Program Coordinator
And there is always more work to be done! We checked in with Nicole Matthesen (MBC ’23) about their single-use plastic journey, insights, and resources:
In fact, it was that concept, circular economies, that inspired my capstone project in the MAS MBC program. When I discovered that single-use takeout items account for almost half of all trash found on our beaches, I realized that putting our efforts into creative source solutions could help us make more significant changes. Armed with this research, I set out to empower restaurants to make a sustainable transition. This effort resulted in the creation of a one-stop-shop website directory resource to make packaging information and sustainable vendors and services options more easily accessible. By leveraging existing solutions and new ways of doing business by bringing together different sectors, I believe we can accelerate solutions that reduce our collective reliance on single-use. We all have a part to play and we can let that be empowering rather than paralyzing. There’s so many ways to plug in and no wrong way to get started.”
We would love to see Zero-Waste events as the standard, not the exception. We hope to role-model that social and networking events are critically important, but don’t have to be massively wasteful when they take place. And we hope our programmatic commitment continues to inspire students and the larger MBC community to question the bounds of what is “normal,” and what could be achieved with some creative, out-of-the-box thinking.
We are always seeking ways the MAS MBC program can pioneer, role-model, and inspire mindset-shifts for a more conservation-minded future. If you have any suggestions or ideas on improving sustainability at the MAS MBC program, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.