Turning Trash Into Treasures

Social Innovator of the Year Alex Freid ’13
Alex Freid

As an undergraduate, Alex Freid ’13 was saddened to see the waste that accumulated near the Dumpsters outside dorms and apartments on campus at the end of each semester. Not the bags of rubbish, but the still-usable couches and other pieces of furniture students were discarding.

He created a way to make better use of those discarded goods, and now, 10 years later, has grown his UNH project into a national organization.

Freid, who graduated with degrees in political science and philosophy, was named the 2022 UNH Social Innovator of the Year — 10 years after he won first place in the student track at the inaugural Social Venture Innovation Challenge.

Honoring individuals since 2013, the award recognizes leaders with a demonstrated commitment to combining the purpose of a social and/or environmental mission with the rigor and accountability of a financially sustainable, scalable model for change.

As a student, he was the co-founder of UNH’s Trash 2 Treasure program, the student-led, financially self-sustaining waste reduction initiative that essentially took those reusable goods discarded by the trash containers at the end of spring semester and turned them into items for sale to students in the fall, reducing unnecessarily discarded items from entering landfills.

Upon graduation Freid was determined to help spread the model nationwide and embarked on a career as a social entrepreneur, founding the nonprofit Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN). Working with nearly 1,000 campuses across the U.S., PLAN helps students, as well as campus faculty and staff, to tackle unsustainable infrastructure on their campuses by providing leadership trainings, resources, consulting and zero waste programming.