2nd Annual Food Waste Audit [Results]

2nd Annual Food Waste Audit [Results]

On October 24 in the campus cafeteria the Sustainable Management Advisory Committee hosted its 2nd Annual Food Waste Audit. It is crazy that Americas’ per capita food waste has increased by 50% since 1974 and the average American throws away 20 pounds of food each month or about two-thirds of a pound per person per day! We were on … Read more

On October 24 in the campus cafeteria the Sustainable Management Advisory Committee hosted its 2nd Annual Food Waste Audit. It is crazy that Americas’ per capita food waste has increased by 50% since 1974 and the average American throws away 20 pounds of food each month or about two-thirds of a pound per person per day! We were on par with our results from the first year and hope that the event created a buzz on campus, and people will be more conscious of their waste.

519 pounds of net organic waste in one day!

Note: The 519 pounds is minus the bucket weight of what the waste was measured in. In total, there was 562 pounds of organic waste including bucket weight. Find out more about sustainability on campus here: http://www.mountunion.edu/sustainability.

Just as a refresher…a waste audit is a rather simple and a formal, structured process used to quantify the amount and types of waste being generated by an organization, in this case Mount Union’s student body. Information from audits will help identify current waste practices and how they can be improved. Being waste-wise can mean a more efficient and effective organization, reduced waste management costs and better use of limited natural resources.

Depending on the situation, there can be many objectives of an audit. Mainly it is to determine composition and quantities of waste being generated, to measure effectiveness of existing waste management systems, to identify opportunities for improving waste management systems and strategies and to collect baseline data for measuring the effectiveness of waste minimization strategies. For our event, it is more to create an awareness and try to change the mindset of a wasteful student body.

Don’t be wasteful. A lot of waste can be composted too. Find out how to build a compost bin here, and check out 75 things you can compost but thought you couldn’tincluding: toilet paper rolls, sticky notes, tea bags, coffee grounds, pizza crust and moldy cheese, among others.

2nd Annual Food Waste Audit

2nd Annual Food Waste Audit

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Who? The Sustainable Management Advisory Committee

What? 2nd Annual Food Waste Audit

When? All day | October 24th

Where? Campus Cafeteria

Why? To be more waste wise!

A year ago, I was studying abroad in Spain, but was able to keep up on some exciting things going on within the Sustainable Management Advisory Committee on campus. The biggest thing we had been working on was an Eco-Rep program, which is now a full-time paid position in most dormitories.

Another event that happened was a Food Waste Audit in the cafeteria to put on display how much organic waste we throw away as students. We have tried different events to raise awareness like “no tray” or “trayless” days, but it seems annoying to our student population more than anything. So, we decided something that was easy for us to put on and easy for students to do – handing your tray to someone instead of putting it on the conveyor belt is pretty simple. The idea is to create an eye opening scene, encouraging students to not be wasteful and take only what they can eat. Before we take a look into what an audit actually is, let’s look at a few eye-opening facts:

  1. Between 1/4 and 1/2 of the more than 590 billion pounds of food produced each year in the United States is squandered during the farm-to-table supply chain. Using this range, food writer and food waste expert Jonathan Bloom estimates that every day America wastes enough food to fill the Rose Bowl – the 90,000-seat football stadium in Pasadena, California – and sometimes it’s as much as two stadiums full.
  2. Americas’ per capita food waste has increased by 50% since 1974.
  3. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2010 discarded food represented the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching landfills and incinerators.
  4. Approximately $100 to $160 billion is spent each year on producing food that is ultimately wasted. (This estimate comes from Jonathan Bloom’s American Wasteland.)
  5. A large portion of food waste occurs in households. The average American throws away 20 pounds of food each month or about two-thirds of a pound per person per day.
  6. Given the water- and energy-intensive nature of growing, processing, packaging, warehousing, transporting and preparing food, it follows that wasted food means wasted energy, water and agricultural resources. Approximately 2.5% of the U.S. energy budget is “thrown away” annually as food waste. This is equivalent to the energy contained in hundreds of millions of barrels of oil. In addition, 25% of all freshwater consumed annually in the US is associated with discarded food – about as much as the volume of Lake Erie.

A waste audit is a rather simple and a formal, structured process used to quantify the amount and types of waste being generated by an organization, in this case Mount Union’s student body. Information from audits will help identify current waste practices and how they can be improved. Being waste-wise can mean a more efficient and effective organization, reduced waste management costs and better use of limited natural resources.

Depending on the situation, there can be many objectives of an audit. Mainly it is to determine composition and quantities of waste being generated, to measure effectiveness of existing waste management systems, to identify opportunities for improving waste management systems and strategies and to collect baseline data for measuring the effectiveness of waste minimization strategies. For our event, it is more to create an awareness and try to change the mindset of a wasteful student body.

Don’t be wasteful. A lot of waste can be composted too. Find out how to build a compost bin here, and check out 75 things you can compost but thought you couldn’t, including: toilet paper rolls, sticky notes, tea bags, coffee grounds, pizza crust and moldy cheese, among others.

AASHE Conference 2011

AASHE Conference 2011

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This past Sunday, on October 9, I was fortunate to attend the AASHE Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. AASHE, which stands for the Association for Advancement in Sustainability in Higher Education, has a mission to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. The organization does this by providing resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything it does, from governance and operations to education and research. Since I am a member of Mount Union’s Sustainability Management Advisory Committee (SMAC), they were able to cover the costs for me and three other students to go.

The conference on Sunday featured the Student Summit, where there were breakout sessions from many colleges over the nation presenting material and giving advice to other students. One presentation was from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire on how it allocated a green fund. A green fund is part of student’s tuition it and goes into a certain account, which is used for sustainable projects. They had some great ideas, and hopefully they are some Mount can implement! One of the guys presenting from this school actually knew people from my hometown of Cedarburg too … what a small world.

Other events that were going on were keynote speakers and an expo at the convention center. The keynote speakers were Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org, and Majora Carter, founder of The Sustainable South Bronx and MCG consulting. They keynotes focused on climate change, under-served communities and universities. I really enjoyed listening to Bill McKibben speak because I have been following his non-profit for some time. 350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis and push for policies that will put the world on track to get to 350 ppm. 350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. The picture to the right of this blog is of Mount Union students with Bill McKibben. Some good books he has written are Eaarth and Deep Economy. I was able to get him sign a copy for me!

“Very few people can ever say that they are in the single most important place they can possibly be, doing the single most important thing they could possibly be doing. That’s YOU, here now.” – Bill McKibben in relation to students and climate change.

There also was an expo where there were many businesses and organizations that featured cutting-edge innovations. Some of these ideas were shared to the many sustainability managers from all over the nation that were present. I was able to talk to some cool companies, and hopefully I can land another internship!

This conference was truly an awesome experience for me since I am so interested in the topics of sustainability, global perspectives and environmental education. We were also able to explore Pittsburgh a little bit and walk around PNC Park and Heinz Field while the game was going on. It was awesome being by the river seeing people tailgating on their boats, and one group was even cooking hot dogs in a canoe! This just goes to show that by getting involved with organizations on campus, many cool opportunities that will present themselves. I sure hope Mount Union can go to the conference next year in Los Angeles.