1 in 900: Larissa Cursaro ’23 and her Waste-Free Journey

Julia Cox ’23
Staff Writer

As the climate crisis begins to heat up (both politically and literally), environmental awareness is the most important it’s ever been. Though the idea of going waste-free may seem overwhelming, Larissa Cursaro ’23 has tips for those wishing to become a little greener. A native of Claremont, California, Cursaro plans on majoring in politics and environmental analysis-policy. When she’s not at a climate strike or giving reviews of zero-waste items like bamboo toothbrushes and reusable pads, she can be found working at the Motley or attending a Café Con Leche meeting. An avid advocate for the planet, Cursaro is always working to find new ways to show the planet some love.

Cursaro’s dedication to sustainability began in high school when she realized that the contents of the recycling bins at her school were ending up in landfills. As a result, Cursaro founded a recycling initiative centered around successfully recycling cans and bottles. Over the course of her senior year, the new recycling boxes ended up in half of her school’s 100 classrooms.

“We mostly got cans and glass, which is great because only 9% of recyclable plastic is ever recycled but almost 80% of aluminum is recycled,” Cursaro said. The initiative has since been passed on to two students who are continuing Cursaro’s work and expanding the initiative to nearby elementary schools.

However, Cursaro didn’t stop there. After inspiring a teacher to go waste-free with his daily school lunch, Cursaro created an Instagram (@keepherthriving), hoping to inspire other people to make small, eco-friendly changes in their lifestyles.

“I made the Instagram with the intention of helping maybe a handful of people in the first year,” Cursaro said.

However, the impact was much broader. After only three months, Cursaro has received over 70 messages with questions about environmental lifestyle changes. Even more impressively, over 50 of those people have followed up with Cursaro after taking her advice and shared their own experiences with her eco-friendly suggestions.

“It’s just awesome and fulfilling to see [the tips I promote on Instagram] manifested in other people’s lifestyles,” Cursaro states.

Cursaro recognizes the difficulties posed by pursuing an eco-friendly lifestyle and has highlighted several simple ways those trying to lessen their environmental footprint can do so.

“Shopping locally, if it’s something that is financially feasible, is a really good option,” Cursaro said. “Thrifting is also a really awesome way to reduce your environmental impact in the textile industry. It’s also … really inexpensive.”
For your textbook needs, Cursaro recommends purchasing from the affordable website and store Abe Books, which mails used textbooks in recyclable cardboard. Etsy is also a reliable place to find various zero-waste items such as toothpaste tabs, bar shampoo and silk floss.

“One of my number one [eco-friendly changes] was going to reusable menstrual products… I’ve saved a lot of money through that,” Cursaro said. Other top changes include the switch to bar shampoo and reusable metal water bottles.

Despite her already significant impacts within her community of Instagram followers and friends, Cursaro hopes to continue influencing people to prioritize the environment.

“I eventually want to become a congresswoman and advocate for the planet and anyone that’s underrepresented in our system,” Cursaro said. “Environmentalism now is something that’s very privileged… I want to advocate for something that’s more intersectional.”

For now, Cursaro plans on making one significant lifestyle change a month to positively impact the environment until she has the means to effect even greater change.

Earth’s current climate crisis means that we have approximately 12 years to reverse the damage inflicted before the earth is permanently affected. “This is something we should be caring about especially because this is our future,” Cursaro said. “We are getting educated, we are spending tens of thousands of dollars on our education, and what are we going to do with that if in 12 years the planet is destroyed? We are the future, and if people don’t do anything now there is no future for us to live in … It’s really important for all college students to advocate for the planet.” Though thinking about the future of the planet can be scary, Cursaro sets an example for making small changes with a big impact.

10/10, Volume XXIX, Issue 2