OPINION | Glass Half Full provides opportunity for students to step up for community

Sari Abolafia, Contributing Writer

Glass Half Full provides opportunity for students to step up for community. (Maggie Pasterz)

It is no secret that college students can be pretty wasteful, that New Orleans is not known for its recycling successes, and that most students will check the symbolic box of “helping the community” by completing their mandatory service-learning courses. What the vast majority of students do not realize is that New Orleans pays for every pound of trash sent to the landfill. And one single beer bottle weighs half a pound. Students, who generate a sizable amount of glass waste, must stay informed on new ways to be greener.

Glass Half Full NOLA, a grassroots recycling facility founded by Max Steitz, class of ‘20 and Fran Trautmann, class of ‘20, diverts over 30,000 pounds of glass from landfills every week. 

Entirely funded by small-donor donations, it is the first facility of its kind in the country, and the first glass recycling facility in Louisiana. The idea was born in a backyard last year, and the directors have since successfully mobilized their solution to two pressing issues in New Orleans: overwhelming glass waste, and coastal erosion.

But every piece of the operation, from collecting, sorting, crushing, sifting, to transporting the glass is done by hand; a fleet of volunteers helps with the heavy lifting. For this reason, Glass Half Full recently launched its 30-day fundraiser, with a lofty goal of $100,000 to invest in more powerful machinery that will expand recycling access beyond New Orleans into the rest of the state.

This is not the first time Steitz has mobilized a grassroots fundraising movement for New Orleans. At the start of quarantine, he co-founded Give Back Tulane 2020 , a fundraising blueprint geared towards Tulane students that ended up raising $64,000 for Second Harvest Food Bank, the New Orleans Business Alliance Fund, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Relief Fund. Students embraced the challenge, donating what they would have spent at bars and restaurants if the semester had not been halted by the pandemic.

Much like the community stepped up in March and April, now is the time for Tulane students to show up for Glass Half Full. Contributing to the cause is simple and imperative. While it is unrealistic to expect that the entire student body can volunteer, those who can should, and others can donate or share the fundraiser on social media. They should, at the very least, take their year’s worth of empty wine bottles off of their mantles and bring them to 911 Joliet Street on Wednesdays between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

You can find the fundraiser on their website www.glasshalffullnola.org or their Instagram, @glasshalffull.nola. 

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