Compared to food waste in 2007 Lasell College students reduced food waste per person by 45% to reach an average of 0.18 lbs per person in 2008. This is great! A huge reduction in just one year. What has led to this change? Are students more cognizant of their foodprint? Are students making comments to their friends about food waste? Did last year's food waste audit leave a huge impression?
Most likely the reduction in food waste we have realized is due to the incorporation of trayless dining. Although a slight inconvenience, trayless dining is proving to have a tangible impact. Trayless dining helps reduce food waste as students can no longer pile on the food. In addition, trayless dining is leading to a reduction in energy usage as hot water is no longer needed to wash as many trays. Trayless dining also requires less soap and water to clean trays. Aramark has estimated that each tray takes 1/3 to 1/2 gallon to wash. We have not been able to completely eliminate trays at Lasell as they are still needed to carry dirty dishes on the conveyor but we have realized a significant reduction as students pile dishes on trays already on the conveyor belt.
How do we stack up compared to other colleges? Through our trayless dining program we are right up there with the best of them. Although I haven't had a chance to verify the data, eco-reps at University of Vermont report the following, with my addition of Lasell:
It is fantastic to see Lasell College ahead of some very environmentally aware campuses such as Oregon and UVM. Dropping from 0.33 lbs per person to 0.18 lbs per person is a great accomplishment. We should not get complacent and we should continue to set food waste reduction goals. But, for the moment, we should step back and celebrate the progress we have made.