Campus Coalition

A Searingly Honest Diary By Our Campus Coordinator In The Run Up To Earth Day

November 12, 2023 – Swarthmore, PA

I’ve been a College Campus Coordinator for a little over a month and I just completed my first work trip to attend the Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN) conference at Swarthmore University. It’s been inspiring to meet so many students focused on reducing plastic on their campus. I’ve also enjoyed meeting the PLAN staff who are carrying out an effective campus campaign. If I’m lucky, we’ll form a partnership with PLAN for this Earth Day!

January 3, 2024 – Washington, DC

Today was big for the Campus Coalition- I onboarded our very first class of interns! I’m thrilled to have a team of motivated students from across the U.S. We have interns from California, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Virginia, DC, Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania! 

January 31, 2024 – Washington, DC


We finalized our partnership with PLAN! We agreed to provide funds to activate their network of student organizers to hold events that elevate our “Planet vs. Plastics” theme. These funds will go directly to students already working on campus plastic reduction. I’m so happy to work with a great team of people too!


Tonight could have gone better, but I’m proud of everything our team has done so far. Our interns built a list of over 500 campus contacts. Our outreach brought over 50 people to our first coalition meeting. I set an outline and agenda and our interns turned that into a powerpoint and even stepped up to do part of the presentation themselves. 

Unfortunately, I need to improve our pitch to motivate students. After laying out options for actions, few students expressed an interest in working with us. Our team will go back to the drawing board to develop a better pitch.

February 29, 2024 – Washington, DC

Our interns have found well over 2000 contacts, but our outreach is just not yielding enough responses. Most of the students who attended our first meeting show little interest in working with us. Our subsequent meetings we have been far more effective at motivating students, but we’ve had lower turnout.

With Earth Month around the corner, I struggle to see how we can reach our 40 event goal. We’ve got student organizers on the ground in Michigan and Pennsylvania and we have interns ready to organize events in Florida and North Carolina, but we need more people.

March 7, 2024 – Washington, DC

Today, Kathleen suggested a cross-country trip to recruit students for the Campus Coalition. I’ve wondered about it in the past, but I wasn’t sure how to do it or if it would even be worth it. 

But something needs to change to reach our 40 event goal, so I’ve decided to make this trip happen. I’ve drafted an itinerary that will take me to 15 cities and towns with campuses over two weeks. I’ll travel across Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. I’m nervous and my girlfriend is not very happy about how long I’ll be gone, but I think I can do this.

March 20, 2024 – Toledo, OH

Exhausted. Got three hours of sleep. I’m driving across Michigan today. I rode an overnight train from Pittsburgh to Toledo, but couldn’t get a wink of sleep. 

I’m motivated though. The past two days in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, I met with students and administrators at Temple, Villanova, Penn, Pitt, Chatham University, and Carnegie Mellon University. We’ve had productive conversations about how to best engage students for Earth Day.

Students need to unite behind a single message and organize demonstrations to send this message. We don’t have much time. After talking with our comms team, we’ll use the phrase “Plastic is Toxic.” This unified message will put pressure on the U.S. government to advocate for a strong Global Plastics Treaty in Ottawa. Now I need to drive to Ann Arbor!

March 21, 2024 – Whitewater, WI

Today’s been hard. I rode the train from Kalamazoo to Milwaukee, transferring in Chicago. I stopped at Marquette, but I wasn’t able to meet with anyone. After that I decided to cancel my meeting with a student in Kenosha, because I had an opportunity to stop by University of Wisconsin- Whitewater on the way to University of Wisconsin- Madison. I’d hoped I could meet with the student in Kenosha tomorrow, but she let me know she can’t.

On the drive to Whitewater, I gave my old boss, Chris, a call. She taught me so much about organizing when I was a student and she is from Wisconsin! She was happy to hear from me and even more excited to learn I was in Wisconsin. It was great to tell her about the wild week I’ve had so far. 

When I got to Whitewater, I couldn’t find anyone at the location we had discussed and I couldn’t get a hold of my contact on the phone. So I canceled my meeting in Kenosha and drove all the way to Whitewater for nothing. I have to drive to Madison now. I really hope I can get some sort of positive result.

March 22, 2024 – Milwaukee, WI

Woke up this morning to eight inches of snow on the ground! Last night I drove back to Milwaukee from Madison to avoid the impending blizzard. 

My meeting with the Associated Students of Madison Sustainability Committee was a success! They have a march to the state capitol planned and they want to include our plastic messaging front and center. They also invited me to speak at the march about plastic and I will connect them with funding from the Climate Action Campaign. I’m glad I could get a win at the end of a difficult day.

March 27, 2024 – Atlanta, GA

It’s been a long, but rewarding day. This morning I drove to the University of Georgia. I made some calls last week, but heard nothing back. After I arrived, I spent twenty minutes wandering around trying to find their office.

When I finally found the office, I met Natasha. When I explained  what I was working on and who I was, she told me she recognized who I was from my emails- so people are actually reading them! In the next room a group of interns were meeting, and I asked if I could take a moment to speak with them. Natasha introduced me and I had a great conversation!

The interns loved our plan and told me about an opportunity for me to help them. They are hosting the Southeastern Student Sustainability Conference next weekend and they invited me to fill a speaking opportunity. As someone who grew up and attended school in the southeast, I’m glad to speak with these students and learn about the work they’re doing!

April 6, 2024 – Athens, GA

The summit’s been a blast! Today I gave a presentation about the history of Earth Day and the power of the student voice. Many who attended were interested in organizing for Earth Day and in building a long term relationship with the Campus Coalition to organize events for future Earth Days.

It was an honor to tell the story of how important students were in organizing the first Earth Day in 1970. I also took the opportunity to share the role students can play to push the U.S. government to advocate for a strong Global Plastics Treaty. I hope they walk away feeling inspired and ready to act.

April 19, 2024 – Madison, WI

I just spoke to over 150 attendees at the student-led march on the Wisconsin State Capitol about the dangers of plastic and the need for global action. Standing in front of a banner reading “Plastics Poison People,” I reminded everyone why this issue matters. With so many problems across the world, it’s easy to overlook plastics. But I tried to show the human suffering plastic production brings when it causes people to contract cancer. It may’ve been grim, but it shows how important the Global Plastics Treaty negotiations in Ottawa are. 

April 22, 2024 – Washington, DC

We brought our message directly to the White House today. Yesterday, some interns in the DC area worked with me to paint a black banner that reads “Plastic is Toxic.” 

More EARTHDAY.ORG interns held a demonstration at the White House to take our message to those who control the US’s stance on the Global Plastics Treaty. On the same day, our team at the negotiations in Ottawa projected “Plastic is Toxic” onto the side of the Supreme Court of Canada

April 26, 2024 – Boone, NC

Just wrapped up my final large event of Earth Day, 2024. I spoke at the Rock n’ Roots concert at my alma mater, Appalachian State University, about “Planet vs. Plastics.” I stood beside my friend, Boone Town Council member Dalton George. We highlighted the dangers of plastic and the steps the school and town are taking to reduce it. This spring, Dalton passed a resolution to phase out single use plastics in town operations by the end of 2025. 

It’s been amazing to see our program grow to meet our goal of 40 events on college campuses. The determination of our interns and our entire team pushed us across the finish line. 

It’s been a hectic first Earth Day for me, but I can’t wait to use the lessons I learned this year to make Earth Day on college campuses even better moving forward. Onwards!