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Waste project yields surprise

Sarah Mayer | Thursday, February 21, 2008

Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, the 708 people who ate in Saint Mary’s dining hall wasted 226 pounds of food, according to the Saint Mary’s Environmental Action Coalition’s “Weigh Your Waste” project.

“This is an incredible amount of food waste considering it was only collected for three hours out of one day,” said head of public relations for SMEAC Ashley Cook. “Considering Saint Mary’s is a small school, I expected the food waste to be much less.”

According to the results, 0.32 pounds of food was wasted for every person that entered the dining hall for lunch. The group weighed the waste in the middle of the dining hall.

Cook hopes the “Weigh Your Waste” project will have an impact on Saint Mary’s students.

“I think that weighing out all of the food waste today and making it visible to everyone could really have an effect on how much is wasted.” Cook said.

While this is the first year the SMEAC has done the “Weigh Your Waste” project, they have been doing events all year to make Saint Mary’s students more environmentally conscious.

On National Recycling Day, they dug through bags of trash separating the recyclables from the non-recyclables. Afterwards they set the actual trash out in front of the Student Center to prove that if students recycled, trash accumulation would be much less.

Also, SMEAC writes “mirror memos,” where facts about the environment are written on mirrors throughout campus. This week’s fact is “Americans represent only 5 percent of the world’s population, but generate 30 percent of the world’s garbage.”

Later in the year, they hope to do another “Weigh Your Waste” in hopes that student waste levels have gone down.

If the waste does not go down, Cook says that the club will “think of alternative options to really get the point across.”

Cook said Sodexho, the food service on campus, was extremely cooperative.

“They thought it was a great idea and were very willing to let us do what we asked because they also know that food waste is a problem.”

Students should be on the lookout for posters with results of “Weigh Your Waste.” Cook hopes this will have an effect on students

“Since our dining hall has such an abundance of food there will always be some waste, but it is good to get the facts out there so students can realize that it is a problem that they could do something about