Thursday, April 10, 2008

Food waste missive

I always like it when students jump in and help out with the sustainability work. Aaron just sent this out to the listserve, without needing to be asked.

Awesome, Aaron.

This just in! The Unity College cafeteria is throwing away/composting approximately 800 pounds of food every week! This equates to about 20% of the total food production. The total budget, for food per year, for the cafeteria is approximately $260,000.00, twenty percent of $260,000.00 is $52,000. A twenty percent waste margin is considered to be acceptable. Though it is an acceptable margin it still represents a large sum of money, and a large amount of the waste is from students throwing away food they do not eat.

This is a pertinent issue for all students eating in the cafeteria. $52,000 of your food budget is going into the compost bin or the dumpster. In a perfect world there would be no waste, but this is not a perfect world.

It is not the end of the world. What can you as a student eating in the cafeteria do to reduce your waste?

  • Take less food your first time through the buffet line
  • Offer suggestions for improvements
  • Respond to surveys
  • Get on the dining services committee
  • Volunteer with the compost crew
  • Use your work study in the cafeteria

Just remember you can always get seconds. The average student takes 20oz of food and throws away 4 of those ounces. Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach. Limit the amount of food you take, to what you know you can eat. Give the cafeteria constructive feedback. Do not be afraid to use the suggestions box by the door to the cafeteria. The staff also sends out survey periodically, but it is no good to them if they receive limited and single sided responses. Also the compost crew would love to have extra help to pick up the food scraps and take it to the compost piles. And the cafeteria can almost always use work study help. If you are not using your work study, consider using it in the cafeteria. With extra help the staff can implement more programs to limit and reduce waste.

We all attend a college with a mission towards sustainability and environmental excellence. I understand that not everyone that attends Unity College cares about the environment the same way. If “saving the planet” is not of concern to you; maybe saving money is something that concerns you. Whatever it is that concerns you as an individual; I would challenge you to do something about it. Make some noise. Do something to help yourself and your community. Make a conscious effort to reduce your waste and others will follow.

Aaron DeStefano

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