Monday’s Weigh the Waste tipped the scales toward too much food waste

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Weigh the Waste crews returned to Sargent and Allison on Monday looking to see if October’s event had any impact on diners and their waste. Since the event in October, there had been various signs in the dining hall announcing last month’s results and encouraging students to reduce their post-meal waste. We returned on November 17th, hoping to see less per-capita waste than the first event, which would be a sign of a successful event. Unfortunately, that is not what we found.

In Sargent, we found that the Weigh the Waste efforts had little effect on diners, as they produced 0.28 pounds of waste per person as opposed to 0.26 pounds per person last month. In Allison, the results were more disheartening. Students wasted 0.41 pounds per person, a 33% increase over October’s measurement of 0.31 pounds per person. This left us wondering what could have been done better to encourage students to reduce their waste.

Surveys taken at both Sargent and Allison during Monday’s event showed that, while some students may have participated in the first event, many did not see or notice any of the results. Seeing the results could have given students a more concrete idea of how much waste they actually produce, which can more strongly influence them to take steps to reduce it.

Next quarter, Weigh the Waste is planned for Willard and Hinman and will come with some improvements. Particularly, we hope to improve our display of the results in the dining halls after the primary event and include tips for how students can reduce their waste. Making these promotions more prominent will hopefully keep waste reduction in the back of students’ minds and encourage them to take more active steps to reduce their waste. As the year goes on we will host Weigh the Waste events in every dining hall and hope to make improvements with each event.

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