No More Down the Drain

Project Leads: Kate Wees & Erik Scollon

recycled clay pottery

Sponsor: UC Berkeley Art Studio

TGIF Grant: $2,700

Project Theme: Waste Reduction

Project Location

2009 Application Submission

Status: Complete

Project Description: This project added a sand and sediment interceptor system to the drains in the UC Berkeley ceramic studio. The new system collects both small and large clay and glaze particles that can then be processed, treated, and fired to make recycled clay pottery and tiles.

Goals: Reduce the amount of waste that currently goes down the sink drains at the UC Berkeley Ceramics Studio from 5-10 lbs per week to 0-1 lbs per week. Recycle and process the waste to be used in future pottery and tiles. Protect UC Berkeley plumbing system from being filled with clay and glaze which not only damages the pipe system but pollutes the water. Save $325 annually by recycling the clay and glaze. Share successful methods with other art studios interested in sustainability.

Recycled Clay Pottery

2009-2010 Accomplishments and Final Results

  • This project was an effort by the Berkeley Art studio to reduce the amount of scrap clay and excess glaze being washed down the drain and thrown away in the trash. 
  • TGIF funds were used to purchase two special closed-system recycling sinks, called "Cinks", where students could wash dirty tools and have the glaze and waste clay captured, rather than go down the drain and 1) negatively impact the plumbing and 2) negatively impact water.
  • To help alleviate some of the need for additional time to manage the program, the Art Studio created an internship program to have some members work on the ceramics project in exchange for membership fees. 
  • Enough material was captured to glaze over 3,500 coffee mugs and to make almost 1,000 clay coffee mugs. 
  • The Art Studio continues to capture the clay and glaze and sell the "greenware" at the studio.


2010 News Article on No More Down the Drain
The ASUC Art Studio, with funding from The Green Initiative Fund, has installed two new closed-system sinks that will collect the clay and glaze waste that previously was washed down the drain. These materials are recycled into new pots and other items for sale. The reuse of clay and glaze is not the only benefit to the campus however; the reduction of sediment in the waste water alleviates the wear and tear on campus infrastructure.

"Our students are so excited to use recycled materials in their art practice," says Art Studio Director Kate Wees. "It is awe inspiring to think about the amount of usable waste we were washing down the drains before the 'sinks' and to apply it to other areas of our lives. I think everyone who is involved in recycling the clay and glazes can't help but to rethink what waste they produce and its effect on the environment."

The art studio collects The Art Studio collects 15 gallons of glaze and 300lbs of clay every six week session – enough material to make 100 small flowerpots . The sale of all recycled material items will fund other environmental projects within the Art Studio.

For more information about the classes and services offered by the Art Studio, visit For more information about the 2010 TGIF grant cycle, visit

Final Report

Mission Statement

The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) provides funding for projects that reduce UC Berkeley's negative impact on the environment and make UC Berkeley more sustainable. TGIF will allocate funds to projects that promote sustainable modes of transportation, increase energy and water efficiency, restore habitat, promote environmental and food justice, and reduce the amount of waste created by UC Berkeley. Portions of the fund also support education and behavior change initiatives, student aid (via return to aid), and internships. TGIF is supported by student fees and administered through a student-majority committee and a program coordinator.