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Sustainable living and reducing waste around campus

Justin DuRant walks the walk. He doesn’t just talk about sustainable living and reducing waste. He’s living green and leading recycling efforts to combat unnecessary waste around campus and beyond. A junior double majoring in music performance and biological sciences, Justin is on the leadership team of USC’s EcoReps – a student organization that strives to educate students about environmental issues. The group works with hall governments, student government and other campus organizations to make lasting environmentally friendly changes on campus. Justin also leads a team of Sustainable Carolina interns who work on campus-wide projects to reduce waste.

He recently gave a presentation on recycling initiatives and waste solutions for athletics at the Students for Zero Waste Conference at the University of New Hampshire. One component of his advocacy focuses on changing policy at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia to combat the tons of waste and plastic bottles generated by the 80,000 Gamecock fans that flock to the stadium in the fall. He also manages the Tailgate Recycling program for football games and is working with Sodexo on a bring-your-own-cup discount for campus food service outlets.

Thousands of plastic water bottles have inundated the city due to the catastrophic flooding that recently overwhelmed our community and our water treatment facilities. Justin can’t sit back and watch the refuse pile up. His effort to curb bottled water use at the School of Music has worked to get 5-gallon water coolers up and running in the building while the city is still under a boil-water advisory.

So just how is Justin working towards his personal zero waste goals? He says, “I never use plastic bags and always carry my reusable one with me; I love the bulk bins at the grocery (since I can bring my own containers), and I ride my bike everywhere.” In addition, Justin is proud that he generates very little waste at home. By composting all of his food scraps and avoiding disposable packaging, he only has enough garbage to empty the bin about every six months. “It’s mostly from my bagless vacuum cleaner,” he says.