College campuses across the country share a common color these days: green. Sustainability has grown into a buzzword with serious backing. Students care about the food they eat, where it comes from, where it’s going, and how it affects the world around them.
What’s even better? This topic gets more than lip service. Here’s how college communities are improving their carbon footprint one compost pile at a time:
1. Trayless Dining: Remember the dining hall trays that you and your friends used to steal and use on snow days as a makeshift sled? Many campuses have gone away from them completely. Recent statistics from the University of Minnesota prove that food waste can decrease by as much as 62% when trays make an exit.
2. Campus Farming: Many schools are serving foods freshly picked from a campus farm. The garden at the University of Massachusetts is positioned in front of the Franklin Dining Commons. More than 1,000 pounds of herbs and vegetables will make their way to UMass plates as a result each year.
3. Green Building Design: The University of California-Berkeley’s dining department built the first green building on campus. Crossroads has window space to let in natural light, energy-efficient lighting, low-flow water faucets, and tables cleaned with cloth instead of paper. The university says its water conservation efforts alone have resulted in saving 180,000 gallons a month – enough to supply 30 homes for a month.
4. Packaging Cutbacks: Can you eliminate Styrofoam to-go containers in favor of reusable ones? Could your operations switch from condiment packets to dispenser products? Arizona State University offers reusable to-go containers in its campus restaurants for a $3 deposit and can exchange used containers for clean ones on the spot. Sun Devil Dining also offers a 10% discount on fountain drinks with the use of a reusable drink container and a $1 discount at convenience stores with the use of a reusable bag.
1Technomic “College & University Consumer Trend Report 2011”
2University of California Berkeley News Release, Aug. 19, 2004