Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Trayless Tuesday

The dining hall at Lasell College will have no trays today. Where are the trays? They have been removed in an effort to promote awareness of food waste. Food waste in the dining hall is an huge problem. Students in my Global Ecology class estimated that the average Lasell students wastes over 5 ounces of food at lunch.

Environmentally, there are several issues in regards to wasted food. First, the food has to be produced. Think CAFOs, pesticides, fertilizers, transportation, processing, and preparing. All of these represent large sinks of energy and pose other risks to our environment. Second, wasted food has to disposed of. At Lasell, we use a disposal system that uses both energy and large amounts of fresh water. In addition to the environmental impact, food waste also impacts the bottom line. If students wasted less food, more money would be available to offer new and improved foods.

By removing trays, dining services hopes students will think twice about loading up on food they don't plan on eating. If students want more, they simply can walk back into the service area and take a second plate. Other colleges have implemented trayless days and observed as much as a 66% reduction in food waste.

I want to commend Sodexo for taking on this initiative. They are going to receive negative feedback from students. There will be grumbling and complaining but in the end, it will get people talking about the issue. Changing student behavior is extremely challenging and sometimes a pulse, such as removing trays, is needed to spark change.

While many may not be happy by the removal of trays today, several things are certain. Lasell College will produce less waste, use less fresh water, all while saving money. This is one small step towards creating a sustainable community.


greeninvt said...

Trayless days are a great idea. I always noticed the amount of waste that students in dining halls produced. Another waste annoyance was students would take about 30 napkins each meal and then use only one and throw the rest away. I used to work at a camp where we would not provide napkins for the campers at times in order to help them be aware of the waste they were producing.

Anonymous said...

Tray less day was a good experience for the school. I would like to see this sort of commitment and inovation be tried within other departments at our school and not just the cafeteria. Perhaps the library can have a "no print day", or buildings and grounds can refuse to take out the trash. Just some ideas. It is encouraging to see our school continue to take steps to raise awareness and I hope students come away with some knowledge. Keep up the great work Prof. Daley!

Sean said...

Is there any oppurtunity to contribute the food waste to a compost?

Michael Daley, Ph.D. said...

We are evaluating if composting is possible here. Our dining hall is located on the second floor and not near an area that could house an Earthtub or other composting device. We have property that might be appropriate for composting but that would involve transporting waste and labor time. The Green Campus Task Force on campus is considering this though.