STEPHANIE BERCHT Staff Writer
When Earth Day came around, there were charts near the dispenser belts in Café SCAD and J.O.’s. The charts had no indication and sat next to the conveyer belts with 14 columns, each labeled in pounds and at the bottom, day one through day 14.
For Earth Week, the dining halls kept track of how much food is wasted in two weeks. According to Jim Evola, Unit Manager of Dining Services, 3,854 pounds of solid food was wasted during those two weeks. Of that, 60 percent was from what students took to the conveyer belt—that is, they took more food than was wanted or needed.
The rest were after-effects of having to plan a massive meal for a number of consumers, who may not always consume everything.
Drexel University in Pa. and Fordham University in New York City also participated in the Weigh the Waste program, an initiative of Sodexo. Sodexo is a food provider for 600 campuses all over the country, including SCAD.
The company pushes for sustainable practices, and many have trickled their way into our dining halls, although few of these changes are obvious enough for the users to notice. These sustainable behaviors include energy and resource expenditure, acting local and diminishing waste. SCAD has “tray-less dining,” which, according to Sodexo studies, reduces waste up to 30 percent, if not more.
General Manager Curtis Bolden said that the dining services encourage students to take a bit and come for seconds. Many students who were here last year may have noticed a change in the napkins. Last year, napkins were loosely placed on trays, and with a gust of wind, a third of them ended up on the floor. This year, the NapXpress dispenser allows for a single napkin to be taken at a time. The napkins themselves are non-bleach. Bulk condiment dispensers are also a step in the greener direction by eliminating individual packaging.
Even the ware-washing soap, a brand by the name of Apex by Ecolab, has a higher degree of biodegradable ingredients. Evola explained that the soap is in a thin wrap that dissolves, as opposed to a hard case packaging that goes in the trash. “It’s double the cost, but less harmful for the environment,” Evola said. Sodexo works with the grocer Sysco Foodservices Co.
Together they work with a supplier called FreshPoint, requesting that any produce on their request list be from locally-harvested sources, as the seasons allow. What about recycling? Trash containers near clubSCAD and Weston house are brimming with cardboard, which is all recycled. That recycling program is run through the SCAD Physical Resources department. Another green concern is Styrofoam.
According to Bolden, approximately 1,000 pieces of Styrofoam containers are given out a week. Bolden stated that they are always looking for a more sustainable product. Biodegradable products are environmentally friendly, but cost-prohibitive. However, more meaningful alternatives are available.
St. Leo University in Florida is that of a reusable take-out container. Eliminating the purchase of a thousand disposable containers per week can make that program cost-effective. Further investigation into other alternatives may yield greater benefit to the environment and the college.