88.5 Pounds: November 4th Weigh the Waste Event

On Wednesday, November 3rd, 360 students who ate lunch in Sargent Dining hall dumped a collective 88.5 pounds of food items into five large buckets. The buckets separated large food scraps (like barely-touched entrées), small food scraps (like orange peels and bread crusts), liquids (leftover drinks and soup broth), paper (napkins), and non-compostable items (like bones and plastic materials).

Despite efforts to engage dining hall patrons in reducing their food waste since the October Weigh the Waste event, the November results were almost exactly equatable to the last: Food waste per capita decreased by 0.001 pound with an average of 0.246 pound. However, there are some other variables to consider.



For example, on November 4th, the ketchup dispenser was broken, which contributed significantly to the four-pound increase in the total amount of non-compostable materials (i.e. plastic ketchup packets). November 4th also had an exceptionally ‘sauce-y’ lunch period in the dining hall, and numerous entire plates/bowls of food covered in cheese, yogurt, and other types of sauce were observed being thrown away.

Despite these extraneous variables, there’s no reason why we can’t move forward to help reduce our waste as much as possible in the future!  In order to help reduce waste in the future, consider the following:

Do you tend you…

  • Take too much?
    • Make sure to take a smaller portion next time—remember, in a self-serve, buffet-style setting, you can always go back for more!
    • But for now, look over to your hungry friend sitting next to you
  • Not like certain foods?
    • If trying something new, test it out first; if you like it, take more
      • If serving it yourself take one spoon/forkful and try a bite
      • If being served, ask for a portion small enough just for you to try it
    • But if this happens anyway, look over to your hungry friend sitting next to you 😉
  • Be in a rush?
    • No, don’t try to eat more quickly
    • Do try to allot yourself a longer meal time— dining hall time is a perfect way to wind down and/or rejuvenate yourself during a busy day
    • However, if you really don’t have enough time, don’t take more than you can eat during the time you do have

Alas, we do have some good news to report! Out of the people surveyed at this event who were also present at the October Weigh the Waste event, 75% of them said they had made a conscious effort to reduce their food waste. They did this by taking less food in general, taking one dish at a time and going back if they were still hungry, allowing themselves more time to spend eating at each meal, looking at the menu online beforehand, and not taking food from other, less-desired stations while waiting in line for their preferred food item.

Let’s learn from those waste-conscious Sargent fanatics and do the same! We will be taking a break from Weigh the Waste until next quarter, but that doesn’t mean progress can’t be made in the meantime.

Particularly, with yummy Thanksgiving and other holiday menus coming up, make sure to remain mindful of what’s going to go in your stomach versus into the trash can (hopefully, the compost—at the very least, Fluffy’s food bowl).


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