We all come across the tear-jerking photographs of environmental destruction and pollution every now and then. However, such issues only set the internet on fire for a little while before flickering into nothing. Environmental changes are driven by many factors including urbanization, intensification of agriculture, population and economic growth, transportation, and rising energy use. Sadly, the deterioration process is predominantly caused by irresponsible human activities.

In order to tackle this problem, zero-waste lifestyle is the goal we all must strive for.  It is the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, zero-waste simply means generating little or no waste.

Training and Awareness Wing (TAW) of NUMS Environmental Stewardship Committee (NESC) and NUMS Center of Lifelong Learning / Resource Development (NCL/RD Dte) attempted to bridge the gap between muddled intentions to save the Earth and on ground zero-waste strategies. A number of awareness sessions on the topic in question have already been conducted by TAW and NCL as part of a change management initiative by NESC. By the same token, complete schedule of the awareness sessions on zero-waste policy and practices – from August 2022 to October 2022 – has reached NCL/RD Dte to be administered and managed by NCL team.

The principal objective of the awareness sessions on zero-waste policy and practices for NUMS community is creating awareness and sensitivity regarding environmental challenges and zero-waste concept, and motivating them to adopt 5Rs (Reduce; Reuse; Recycle; Rot-Compost; Raise-Awareness) of zero-waste practices to minimize generation of waste at NUMS.

UN SDGs, Asia Pacific Region 3R Group, Environmental Protection Act 2005, and HEC’s Green Youth Movement are the reasons behind the need for environment stewardship at NUMS. Besides, conventional waste disposal practices are an existential threat for our planet. They can cause damage to ecosystem, contamination of natural resources, and economic loss and damage to human health.

Various zero-waste measures are taken at NUMS including awareness activities, reduce and reuse initiatives, solid waste segregation at source, organic waste composting at campus, and application of 5R awareness of zero-waste practice for research and data collection. Individuals are encouraged to buy items which can be reused, avoid items which are not environment friendly, reduce food waste by donating excess food or compost, repurpose items, and avoid waste of water and energy.

NUMS was initially producing 100% landfill waste, whereas applying 5R zero-waste practice has drastically reduced it to 24.1% in just three-month period (Sep-Nov 2021). Therefore, NUMS aims to solidify this position by motivating its community to adopt 5R practices with open arms; since not taking proper care of the planet we live in will only land us in hot water in the long run.

These sessions are undertaken in relation to SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and SDG 13 (Climate Action).