Published: Jan. 31, 2023

Ari MosconeArianna (Ari) Moscone (she/her) is the newest Zero Waste Outreach Coordinator for CU Boulder’s Environmental Center. Ari has lived in Boulder for a few years now and has experience working with sustainability in a campus setting. Her passions lie in waste management, and she has even played a role in passing Colorado’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (PPRA) which you can read more about here

What kind of responsibilities do you have as the Zero Waste Outreach Coordinator? 

I'm helping to maintain and also expand and improve zero waste outreach on campus. I'm going to be working with a group of amazing students to provide presentations, trainings, events, social media content and campaigns all about recycling, composting and zero waste, as well as coordinate with different departments on campus to make sure we're all on the same page in terms of our zero waste messaging by providing marketing, educational and outreach materials.

What does your education look like? 

I went to the University of Massachusetts Amherst and got my undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and also in Environmental Communications and Advocacy. Environmental Communications and Advocacy was actually a major I created. UMass Amherst is one of the few colleges that has a program where you can essentially create your own major. We didn't have an environmental studies major, and we didn't have majors that combined environmental studies with advocacy and communications, so I was able to create it myself. After that, I moved on to get a Master of Science in Sustainability Sciences with a concentration in urban sustainability, and I focused on studying waste systems in urban settings. 

What did you do post-graduation? 

After graduation, I continued to do zero waste work, as well as other sustainability work, as a campus Sustainability Engagement Coordinator at UMass Amherst. After a few years there, I wanted to branch out to further develop my skills and focus on zero waste specifically. I heard about Eco-Cycle when I was in college since it’s one of the oldest and largest nonprofit zero waste organizations in the U.S., so I applied for a job, was hired, and moved to Boulder in 2017. I was there for five years, and was the Outreach and Engagement Manager for the organization. 

Where did your passion for sustainability come from? 

I am from an oceanside town in Massachusetts, and I saw trash washing up on the beaches multiply as I grew up. When I was three years old, I started going around with my bucket, and instead of collecting shells, I'd pick up trash. As I grew up, I started organizing town-wide beach cleanups, and even proposed a plastic bag fee to the town when I was in high school. I feel like if I hadn't taken action myself and had that passion from the beginning, as well as had parents who valued sustainability and resource conservation, then I wouldn’t have ended up in this field. 

How do you stay motivated?

I think for me, it's the people that I surround myself with. In my prior job, I viewed everyone I worked with as my family. The work we were doing was really hard at times, but we all were really passionate about it. We made sure to create spaces where we felt like we could be creative and also felt like we could voice when we were feeling super defeated about something. That space of mutual understanding allowed us to continue to feel empowered, be creative and stay motivated.

If I'm able to take even a fraction of what I know, reach someone who may know nothing about sustainability or zero waste, and make them feel empowered to do something or empowered to take action in some way, that keeps me going. Even if it's a small thing, I take the wins where I can get them. 

The reason why I wanted to go back into the college space is I feel like a lot of students are at that point where they have learned so much and they're just brimming with ideas of things that they want to do to make change. I want to be the person who helps facilitate and empower folks to feel like they can make a difference and give them the tools to become leaders. 

What separates Boulder from other places in terms of sustainability?

Boulder is a leader in the country in terms of sustainability, but of course, we still have a lot of work to do. We have high diversion rates, we have amazing programs, and we have folks in the community who are supportive of Boulder adopting sustainability policies, such as policies to expand recycling and composting. The support is there from the community, which I think is super, super important, and folks are really engaged and excited about moving toward zero waste, which definitely helps. We have the resources and infrastructure to be able to do well in terms of sustainability, and specifically, zero waste. 

I also want to acknowledge that we have a lot of resources and infrastructure that other places just don't have the ability to have. We’re in a little bit of a bubble because many other places don’t have the support, funding, infrastructure, etc.

I see Boulder as a model, and since we're in such a supportive environment, we can test different things out to push the envelope in terms of sustainability and zero waste, see how that goes, and then use that to create a model for other places to take our ideas, adopt similar programs and hopefully help improve their sustainability efforts.