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The last Waste-Free Wednesday

Anna Gorman | Monday, April 23, 2012

Well, it’s been fun folks … I’m sad to say that this coming Wednesday will be the last Waste-Free Wednesday of the semester. While it does defeat the purpose, I do have to say it’s been entertaining watching some of you dump your food scraps on your friends’ plates so that you can get a raffle ticket. I appreciate all of you who have made a concerted effort to take less and waste less.

Seeing how much food we waste in our dining halls each day while knowing how many people, especially children, in our own South Bend community are going to bed hungry each night kills me. Not that I’m trying to guilt trip you necessarily, but if it’s working – sorry, I’m not sorry.

Sometimes I know it can be really hard not to waste, especially on days when the dining hall decides to offer every single one of your favorite foods, and you feel like you’re betraying the food if you don’t put it on your plate. If you take smaller portions, though, this isn’t so much of a problem. Go for seconds.

Yeah, it may take more time, but honestly, who doesn’t feel somewhat more legitimate when their procrastination happens in the dining hall, instead of sitting around in their room? You could also try going trayless. Inevitably, you’ll take less, waste less, get your food faster and become a pro at weaving through crowds of backpacks.

And while we’re on the topic of food sustainability, I may as well throw in some information about the benefits of going meatless and eating seasonally. Most people don’t realize how many resources are required for meat production and the impact it has on the environment.

For instance, if every daily-meat-eating American went meat-free once a week, it would be the equivalent of taking 8 million cars off the road. Livestock are a major cause of methane gas emissions and deforestation. It takes almost 1,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of hamburger.

I rarely crave meat, and even more rarely eat red meat, but ironically every Friday in Lent I really want a hamburger. It’s miserable. I’m no vegetarian, and I’m not asking you to completely give up meat by any means. I know the idea seems a bit daunting, but at least try at a few meals. The dining halls offer plenty of delicious vegetarian meals, I promise.

In case you weren’t aware, Food Services does what it can to source locally and use seasonal ingredients when possible. But, because they love us all so much, they still provide those menu items we secretly crave that are neither local nor seasonal. Flying foods cross-country, especially refrigerated foods, is pretty darn energy-intensive. Also, who doesn’t want to help out our local farmers? Would Notre Dame really be the same without the scent of ethanol? No, no it would not.

To sum things up, please try really hard not to waste, especially this Wednesday. Improve your weaving abilities and go without a tray. Try for a few meatless meals a week, and eat more of the foods labeled “locally sourced.” Happy Day-After-Earth-Day!

Email your predicaments to

The GreenMan at

askthegreenman@gmail.com, and let him answer you with a sustainable twist. The GreenMan will be here every other week to provide you with insights you never knew you were missing out on, until now.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.