No Waste Dinner 2015

Last week we held what Team Green calls a “no waste dinner” in Douglass Dining Center, which is where we compost all post-consumer waste produced at dinnertime. In three hours, we collected 100 pounds of food waste that would have normally been sent to the landfill. Sadly, we noticed many people dumping almost entire plates of food into the buckets. We were not only doing this event to teach people about the benefits of composting, but also to educate people about how much they really waste.

If we take what we composted that night to represent an average dinner, then we can assume over 400 pounds of food waste is thrown out each week at Douglass alone. Remember, Douglass is only open for dinner 4 days a week. That is a lot of waste; waste that can be prevented.

So what can you do to produce less food waste? First is to only take what you know you are going to eat, if you are still hungry, you can always go grab more.  Second, take smaller portions if you are not sure if you are going to like something so you do not end up throwing out an entire plate worth of food. You may not think you make a big difference but you do.

Check out the photos bellow to see a recap of the event!

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Author: Gabryella Pulsinelli

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What is Composting About?

I have an astounding statistic for you:

According to the 2011 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization report, one thirds of all food products worldwide go uneaten.

That’s over 1.3 billion tons of food discarded each year. There are over 925 million people who suffer from hunger worldwide. Just let that sink in for a minute. We waste one third of all food and 925 million people are starving.

On top of that, most of the food wasted ends up in landfills and has major effects on the environment. When food breaks down it creates greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, which contribute to global warming. All of these emissions can be avoided if we choose what we buy and consume more responsibly. Granted, no matter how responsible a person is, some food is bound to be wasted. There will be scraps of chopped vegetables, or crust cut off of sandwiches, or food you just absolutely can’t finish when out at lunch. Luckily, those can be diverted from landfills to compost bins.

UR Dining Services prides itself on composting everywhere it can, from Starbucks to Douglass. Did you know that Danforth is a zero waste facility? All leftover food and napkins are composted by our partnership with Waste Management. Even when the dishwasher breaks, all silverware, plates, and cups are compostable.

So why should we care about composting? Composting diverts food waste from landfills and creates nutritious fertilizer to grow more food. By not dumping our waste into the landfill, we also reduce carbon emissions.

Check out this article if you want to know more about food waste and its effect on the environment.

 

Author: Gabryella Pulsinelli

Waste Not, Want Not

It’s a little ironic: Thanksgiving, according to the nice tale we tell this time of year, started after our nearly-starved-to-death forefathers (and foremothers) made it through winter.  It was a celebration that they had enough food to survive, food which would have been incredibly precious to them.  Today, to celebrate, we gorge ourselves on food one day and the next, throw half of it away.

I tried really hard to find good statistics on Thanksgiving specific waste, but estimates varied widely.  In general, 40% of food produced in America never even reaches consumers and of the food which does, an additional 25% goes to waste.  And almost everyone agrees that this number is higher on Thanksgiving.

Beyond the questionable morals of such waste (the food wasted each day is enough to feed 80 million people, according to the New York Times), there’s an obvious environmental impact.

  1. Agricultural expansion is the largest threat to forests and is responsible for 70% of deforestation.  We can minimize this expansion by minimizing waste.
  2. Food in landfills produces methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.
  3. Over 80% of the water used in the US goes to food production.  Food waste is water waste–throwing away half a hamburger, for example, wastes the same amount of water as you would’ve used showering for over an hour.

See if you can prepare enough food without being excessive, and find good ways to use your leftovers.  Send them home with guests.  Eat them for lunch the next day (and the day after that, and the day after that…).  Feed your pet dragon (dragons love cranberry sauce).  If you do have to get rid of food, try composting it!  I’ll be halving all my recipes and feeding anyone else on campus, so hopefully that keeps me from having to throw anything out.  Regardless of what you’re serving for Thanksgiving, one of the best things you can do is try to waste less.  And really, what could be more in the spirit of Thanksgiving than being thankful enough for the food to not throw it away?

Sources:

http://greenlivingideas.com/2009/11/19/green-thanksgiving-eliminating-food-waste/
http://www.npr.org/2012/11/23/165774988/npr-the-ugly-truth-about-food-waste-in-america
http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/work/agriculture
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/18/weekinreview/18martin.html?pagewanted=1
 
 
Author: Charlotte Humes