Harvard Law waste reduction ‘exemplary’ during Commencement in 2016

Green Team and staff members, Carrie Ayers and Jacquelyn Kenehan, sorting trash on commencement day to reduce landfill waste at the School through recycling and compost diversion.

Harvard Law School staff members Carrie Ayers and Jacquelyn Kenehan sorted trash on commencement day with the Green Team to reduce landfill waste at the School through recycling and compost diversion.

Amidst the crimson celebration, pomp, and circumstance that mark commencement across campus, Harvard Law School made sure to add in a little green. Thanks to the hard work of a dedicated group of Green Team and HLS staff volunteers, the law school diverted 94.8% of all waste from the landfill on commencement day.

For the second year in a row, HLS event organizers worked together to ensure that all materials provided at commencement were compostable, including all food packaging and serviceware — the only exception being a plant-based water bottle that was recyclable.

For the first time ever, on-campus advocates such as the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic worked with dining services provider Restaurant Associates to further reduce unnecessary food waste by donating 900 leftover meals. Through a partnership with Food for Free, a local Cambridge nonprofit, the surplus food was redistributed to families in need in the Greater Boston area.

The success of the second zero-waste commencement at HLS would not have been possible without participation and collaboration across campus from sustainability champions such as the Dean of Students, Green Team-led staff volunteers, and Facilities, Custodial Services, and Restaurant Associates partners. These efforts help tackle Harvard’s goal to reduce per capita waste 50% by 2020, as outlined in the University-wide Sustainability Plan.