UofL hosts Zero Waste Tour for University of Kentucky staff

UofL Community Composting ProjectUofL's Worm RoomBattery sorting at DEHSSorting Trash-to-Treasure ItemsE-waste Recycling at SurplusUofL Free Store visitCardinal CupboardZero Waste Orientation Meals stats

On June 21st, 2024 the UofL Sustainability Council was honored to host a visit from our colleagues at the University of Kentucky that was focused on Zero Waste initiatives. Sustainability staff at UK initially reached out to UofL with a request to tour the UofL Free Store, which students first launched in 2013, as they are finally making plans to open a Free Store on their campus in Lexington.

We were delighted to show off the UofL Free Store, but decided to put a full day Zero Waste tour of Belknap Campus together for our Wildcat friends. Everyone was excited to exchange ideas, compare notes, share plans, and commiserate about common challenges across our institutions. Stops on the tour included:

  • UofL's Community Composting Project, hosted by project director Brian Barnes and student worker, Avery Kahl. We explored the Worm Room with its vermiculture system producing rich vermicompost and compost tea. We also discussed the project's spin-off, the Louisville Compost Co-op, that offers an organics pick-up service for Louisville residents, non-profits, and businesses.
  • Physical Plant's Metal Recycling system and Yard Waste mulching that returns nutrients back to campus landscaping.
  • UofL's new "Trash-to-Treasure" program for collection of useful items during Move-Out, the summer sorting of donations that is happening now, summer storage, and then redistribution of items to incoming students during Welcome Week Free Sales at Move-In time in August. We were all inspired by the hard work of Zero Waste Intern, Mo Early, to manage the program again this year.
  • UofL's Department of Environmental Health & Safety operations for managing, redistributing, and recycling of hazardous materials, including our Chemical & Lab Exchange program, battery & lamp recycling. Thanks to John Morris for providing an impressive and thorough tour.
  • Ulous Grigsby & Damon Belle welcomed us at UofL's Surplus warehouse for the handling and reuse of surplus furniture and equipment. They also showed us all of the E-Waste that has recently been collected for the next shipment to Powerhouse Recycling in North Carolina.
  • At the SAC, we showed off the Cardinal Cupboard and explained how volunteers in the campus chapter of the Food Recovery Network help stock the shelves of our campus pantry. We also toured the UofL Free Store and discussed strategies for maximizing the use of very limited space.
  • On the way to lunch, we stopped at the Garden Commons to explain how it is a central hub for sustainability where the campus community can not only learn how to grow food, but they'll also find two compost bins, a huge Free Store donation bin, a little free library, a Pineal trading station for excess produce and plants, and rain barrels for capturing water off the roof of the Baptist Center for irrigation.
  • Our last, and most delicious stop was at UofL's Zero Waste dining hall, The Ville Grill. UofL DIning's sustainability team of Lindsay Klingenschmidt and Alana O’Bryan explained their impressive efforts to pursue zero waste dining daily at the Ville Grill and at special events on campus like our Summer Orientation meals, Welcome Week picnics, and even last year's Presidential Inauguration. They also showed off our Louie's Greenhouse hydroponics farm for herbs and microgreens.

Thanks to everyone who took time out of their Friday to share our great work with our "rivals" at UK. We look forward to further collaboration in the future!