PLAN’s Plastic-Free Campus Manual

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The #PlasticFreeCampus manual contains over 60 pages of guidance, tools, and best practices for students to rid their campuses of disposable #SingleUsePlastics, including bags, bottles, and microbead-containing products.

Discard Studies often posts about environmental problems related to waste, as well as what different economic, social, and political groups are doing about them, but as a mostly-academic blog (with a tip of the hat to our artist, scavenger, practitioner, and non-academic researcher audience members), we don’t often post about discards at the type of institution so many of us have in common: universities.

We’ve written before about how waste is infrastructure, not behavior, meaning that small, individual changes in one person’s habits may have impacts for personal ethics, but they do not scale up to address environmental problems writ large (also see Maniates 2001, Szasz 2007, Jensen & McMillan 2011). But a university… that scales.

Students are unique stakeholders at universities in that they have the leverage to make changes they may not be able to make as citizens outside of the university, and that faculty might not be able to make within the university. The Plastic Free Campus Manual includes not only consumer alternatives to disposable plastics, but more importantly, organizing advice on running campaigns, working with administration, facilitating cross-campus collaborations, and passing the baton on to other student organizers when graduation looms.

The Manual is an example of a how-to guide that incorporates political, social, material, and economic aspects of discards as part of an action plan, and as such follow the tradition of Discard Studies to look at entire systems of waste, rather than merely instances of wasting.

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Excerpt from The Plastic Free Campus Manual.

The Plastic Free Campus Manual was created by the staff at the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN) in partnership with the Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) and partners from a number of universities across the United States.



Jensen, D., & McMillan, S. (2011). As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial-A Graphic Novel. Seven Stories Press.

Maniates, M. F. (2001). “Individualization: Plant a tree, buy a bike, save the world?.” Global environmental politics1(3), 31-52.

Szasz, A. (2007). Shopping our way to safety: How we changed from protecting the environment to protecting ourselves. U of Minnesota Press.