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About Students for Zero Waste Conference Fundraiser

This November, PLAN's Students for Zero Waste Conference is going digital to allow anyone from across the country to safely attend from their home! Over the summer, we are looking to raise $30,000 in an effort to prioritize accessibility to SZW 2021 by allowing FREE admission to all students at PLAN member campuses.


About SZW:

The Students for Zero Waste (SZW) Conference brings together students, staff, industry innovators, activists, and community members from across the country each Fall. The event includes student-led workshops, professional training, hands-on activity sessions, affinity group meet-ups, and panels. Read more about SZW on our website! Highlight sessions from years past include:


  • Zero Waste and Capitalism Panel 2019
  • Garbage is a State of Mind Keynote 2018
  • Woke and Wasteless Workshop 2018+19
  • The Waste is Such a Drag Show 2018
  • Building a Reuse Economy on your Campus Workshop 2018
  • Dear Discarded Object, What’s Your Story? Interactive Art Installation 2017
  • “Un-Conference” Open Space Session 2014-19

The SZW Conference has served as a space for solution sharing and cross-pollination of efforts to push the movement forward. It prioritizes “walking the walk” of Zero Waste and centering the needs of those most impacted by waste and systems of oppression perpetuated by the Linear Consumption Economy.


Staff and volunteers from the 2019 SZW Conference


What will this fund go towards?

We work hard each year to build a space for learning, community building, and celebrating at SZW. We rely on our supportive network of donors and volunteers to help us prioritize accessibility by offering the following supports:

  • FREE attendance to the conference for all students at member campuses.
  • Sliding scale ticket costs. We will never turn anyone away for lack of funding, and we ask those who can afford to pay full price tickets to do so.
  • ASL interpreters, captioning, and other digital accessibility services.
  • Decompression spaces and emotional and mental health support staff on call.


“I thought the PLAN staff did a great job establishing the intersectional importance of systemic oppression and waste.”


“I had such a wonderful time! Thank you for all your hard work! I greatly appreciate that PLAN connects students and ideas around waste with a solid framework. That was exciting to see.”


“I loved learning about the circular economy more, and how all levels of sustainability tie into the concept. Thank you all so much for providing this wonderful opportunity for students to grow and learn. I have loved to share the things I learned and I definitely hope to come back next year, but bring some friends!”


“I'M SO GRATEFUL TO YOU ALL FOR THIS CONFERENCE! I look forward to it every year!”


Quotes from 2019 SZW attendees



    What Happened to SZW in 2020?

    In 2020, we made the difficult decision to cancel the Students for Zero Waste Conference early on. As the impact of COVID was just beginning to be felt in the Spring, we knew that in the coming Fall students would be facing extreme uncertainty on their campuses and our support work would be needed elsewhere. This has been truer than we could have imagined. Students have had to move off of campus quickly and unexpectedly, shift back and forth to virtual and in-person classes, handle campus spending freezes and so much more. Student organizing has changed drastically in response to these challenges. Programs are facing brand new roadblocks but students are persisting. This past year, we have seen students make an incredible push and investment to keep this movement strong. Students are building creative solutions to new challenges and PLAN is well positioned to support their ongoing efforts. We are seeing a need for solution sharing and a hunger for community. We are even getting direct requests for a Students for Zero Waste Conference! Our first ever digital Students for Zero Waste Conference is an adaptation to this new reality of student organizing. We see it as an opportunity and not a limitation. The digital Students for Zero Waste Conference will serve as a place to share what we have learned from 2020 and COVID-19. These times have been formative in the work of Zero Waste, Environmental Justice and student organizing and the movement needs a space to share that. We will celebrate the work that we did this year and identify areas we need to challenge ourselves and the movement going forward. After a year without this event we know that there will be new topics to cover, new accessibility needs and more attendees than ever. As always, we are committed to prioritizing accessibility to the space and centering those that have been most impacted by waste and systems of oppression perpetuated by the linear consumption economy. We hope you will join our network of supporters who contribute to this fund and make SZW possible!