BY: SWIKAR OLI
A study out of University of Michigan says that just in 2010, Americans generated 35 million tons of food waste–97 per cent of which gets thrown away–making food waste “the single largest component of the municipal waste stream reaching American landfills and incinerators.” Universities, whose cafeterias contribute tons to yearly food waste, are seeing students launch creative campaigns to waste less and put the disposed food to use.
In 2010, Americans generated 35 million tons of food waste.
One effective way campus cafeterias are cutting food waste is going trayless. Aside from taking lots of water to clean, the hardy food tray encourages eaters to blithely pack every indented section with more food and drinks than they can manage, much of it being tossed by the end. When the Rochester Institute of Technology got rid of its trays, a dining hall manager estimated to The New York Times that her school saved 10 per cent in food “despite rising ingredient costs.” She also says she lost 10 pounds after going trayless. Using a plate per trip, students have to go back to get more; she says this makes each trip a “conscious decision.”
Informing students about food waste also seems to do the trick. A 2012 study showed that putting up simple messages about food waste reduced it by 15 per cent. Reuters reports that “tray-free dining typically yields 25-30 percent reductions in food waste according to a 2009 analysis of previous research.”
A 2012 study showed that putting up simple messages about food waste reduced it by 15 percent.
In Maryland, students tackled the issue from the other side: by donating leftovers. They formed the Food Recovery Network, which was delivering an average of 70 to 90 kilograms (150 to 200 pounds) of food per night to area shelters. From 2010 to 2012, the group donated 30,000 meals. Since then, FRN has grown to 150 chapters and has recovered nearly a million pounds of food.
In Maryland, students tackled the issue from the other side: by donating leftovers. They formed the Food Recovery Network.
Thanks to a sustainable food initiative in Boston University, they “recycle, repurpose, or compost about 75 percent of waste from its kitchens,” the Christian Science Monitor reports. Composting puts food back into the ground and enriches the soil, reducing methane gas emissions in the process. Food Tank reports, “at Dickinson College, students run a campus farm and are composting daily deliveries of salad bar scraps from the cafeteria. In 2005, Dickinson expanded the compost program into a campus-wide initiative with student farm workers, partnering with facilities management to ensure that the campus food waste is composted.”
Not only are students taking action to reduce food waste, President Obama took a major stand, calling to reduce food waste 50 percent by the year 2030.
President Obama took a major stand this month, calling to reduce food waste 50 percent by the year 2030. And the United Nations did its own bid to lessen the stigma against ugly food; during last Sunday’s UN meeting, chefs served world leaders food that was destined for the garbage bin. The menu listed soups made from vegetable scraps and chickpea water, fries were corn used in animal feed, the breads “repurposed” and the ketchup bruised beet. The burger patties were the leftover pulp from juicing.
After the meal UN’s secretary-general told reporters food waste is a shame when so many go hungry.
Worldwide, around half of the food that is produced goes to waste. Being mindful of waste can help to curb it, to say nothing of grabbing a smaller plate.