Wasteful ways

Students for Environmental Action show how much food waste the university is producing

By on November 13, 2018

Students for Environmental Action (SEA) is making it a point to show everyone at Quinnipiac just how much food they are throwing away everyday.

Weigh the Waste is a new initiative the club is putting on weekly. Members of the club are tabling Tuesdays outside the trash conveyor belt in the cafeteria, asking students and faculty to scrape their leftover food into the many clear buckets they set up.

Kelly Ryan | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
“We explained a lot of people in the New Haven area are going hungry every day and we as a university are throwing away this much food that could otherwise be used to feed people,” Erin LeDrew, Event Coordinator for SEA, said. “People were really interested and receptive to that.”

Freshman Luca Triant believes bringing the food waste issue to light is crucial.

“I think that it’s important because we do waste a lot of food and having people step up and take action is great,” Triant said.

Last Tuesday, SEA tabled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and collected 72 quarts of food waste in that time span. This Tuesday, 88 quarts of food went to waste within four hours.

LeDrew said some people didn’t want to see any of it because they found it disgusting.

“That’s kind of our idea–putting it in the forefront because you can’t really ignore it,” LeDrew said. “You’re throwing it away everyday.”

Weigh the Waste made junior Sam Leis consider how much food he wastes.

“It looks very helpful, otherwise this would all go to waste,” Leis said. “I know personally I waste a lot of food.”

SEA teamed up with QU Dining, who provided the buckets and the table and weighed the food waste.

Weigh the Waste was built off of another project SEA does in partnership with the International Students Association and QU Dining called Food Rescue. Cafeteria workers package up leftover food at night, and in the morning volunteers pick it up and bring it to different community organizations that use food to feed people who would otherwise not have a meal that day.

Kelly Ryan | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
SEA is using the Weigh the Waste initiative to promote why Quinnipiac should have a compost on campus.

“Just in that amount of time on only one of our campuses, we are producing that much waste. That can be used to for better purposes and be converted into energy,” LeDrew said. “We could use it to maybe make a community garden at some point.”

LeDrew has started having conversations with administration about the idea of having a compost on campus. A few weeks ago, herself and President of SEA Finn Barcheski met with Associate Vice President for Facilities Operations Keith Woodward to discuss it. Woodward told them there used to be a compost on campus, but it was not maintained for very long and didn’t end up being sustainable. However, LeDrew said Woodward is willing to try it again.

“We’re really hoping that SEA could adopt this, really get to new levels and continue it throughout the years,” LeDrew said.

SEA hopes to do a catalyst compost project to test out the idea before jumping into a full size compost. Though LeDrew is graduating at the end of this year, she would still like to the see a compost on campus before she leaves. With that being said, she still wants it done right.

“Our goal with it is that we want it to happen as soon as possible, but we also want it to happen the right way,” LeDrew said. “We don’t want to just jump into it without any background or research into it. If all went well we would hope to have it within the first half of the next semester so that we could really get people used to the idea of it and then by the time we leave next year people will be coming into it and will just know what to do.

If all goes well, SEA hopes to have a compost within the first half of the upcoming spring semester. The club plans to continue the conversation with administration to make it happen, including talking to President Judy Olian. LeDrew said President Olian has shown interest in environmental issues.

Kelly Ryan | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
“I think with the new administration we have right now, it’s a really good time to push for it,” LeDrew said. “We really want to get into [President Olian’s] office hours, that is in our plans. We want to have a conversation with her about environmental issues because I don’t know if anybody has yet.”

The club’s next project is tabling, asking students to write down environmental issues they see at Quinnipiac in exchange for an SEA reusable straw. SEA also plans to look into the single stream recycling system at Quinnipiac to find out how that is actually operating, according to LeDrew.

“We are hoping to get our name out there and really create something that even after we leave will continue to be a club and have a lot of interest,” LeDrew said.

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Email: kelly.ryan@quinnipiac.edu
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Year: 2019
Major: Journalism