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Residence Hall Director Strives to Waste Less


“Reduce, reuse, recycle” is just the minimum for Amy Garside, who is taking the phrase to a whole new level with a zero waste lifestyle. After going 31 days producing minimal waste, the SUNY Cortland residence hall director gave insight into her personal achievements during a campus talk April 14.

Garside, a SUNY Cobleskill graduate with a bachelor’s in plant sciences/environmental sciences, shared her journey and gave simple sustainability tips at her talk “Living Zero Waste on a College Campus.”

Amy Garside
Amy Garside

At the end of February, Garside, who works in Shea Hall, wanted to hone in on an Earth Day challenge. When she found that bloggers online had decided to take on zero waste challenges, she was inspired to begin her own change for the month of March.

During this time, Garside decided to focus on being more conscious of the 5 R’s: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot, while sharing her everyday goals and accomplishments through her blog, “31 Days of Zero Waste.”

“It’s encouraging to see each day producing less and less,” Garside said. “The days that I don’t produce any waste make me really happy.”

Garside set aside three bins for waste, recyclables and compost in her apartment. Each day she would keep her waste and distribute it in the appropriate bins to see her progress over time. Readers could follow along as she posted photos and recaps of the day throughout the month.

“One thing I did think was hard in this challenge is replacing the products I use and finding alternatives to personal care products.”

recyclable materials

She switched her grocery shopping to the Local Food Market in Cortland and tried to implement more of her own cooking rather than using food products that came pre-made in packaging.

“In the natural organic food section I purchase bulk ClifBars that I would normally buy individually, and put them in my own containers,” Garside said.

“Another great habit I got into was when I go out to eat, I bring my own containers for takeout.”

Garside has decided to extend her initiative through the months of April and May, now making her goal a three-month-long lifestyle change.

Her April 14 presentation was part of the “Green Days” Sandwich Seminar series, sponsored by the President’s Office.

Visit for background on Garside’s challenge.

Prepared by public relations intern Bethany Lunden