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GreeND: Good to be tray-free

| Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This past Thursday, GreeND held Tray Inconvenient Day in conjunction with the Junior Class Council and in partnership with Notre Dame Food Services. It was a day we have been planning for some time now, and the event accomplished exactly what it was set to accomplish. We challenged the given and upset the norm by generating talk around the trays. We’ve only just gotten started on this endeavor and there are still many kinks we need to iron out, but we’re still so excited to see this initiative come to fruition in the coming years.

The mission behind every GreeND action has always been simple. We are immensely fortunate to inhabit this planet and therefore support treating this blessing as an enormous gift, not a right. This ethic extends across all creatures, social disciplines and campaigns.

The tray free campaign is twofold. We have an ethical duty to cut waste, as less wasted food in our dining halls equates to more food that can go to hungry mouths in our local community, and an ethical duty to conserve water, as less trays means less water is used washing them.

Hence, Tray Inconvenient Day was born so people could experience going tray-free just for one day. It was a risk-free environment: try it if you like, but the trays were tucked just around the corner if you didn’t want to participate. It was low pressure, as all the trays would be back to their rightful place the next day. The goal, which is very far down the road at this point, is to move away from trays entirely.

As clarification, however, it’s important to note that getting rid of trays is not going to raise the price of the meals you receive at the dining hall. The survey put out last week by student government was only meant to gage interest in all different kinds of pursuable dining hall initiatives. Still, we were thrilled to see just how many people accepted the trayless challenge.

As a premier Catholic institution, as a world-renowned university or simply just as moral human beings, we need to think about how our local actions contribute to the global scale of climate change. Notre Dame must invest much further and deeper into sustainable initiatives if we truly want to do our part to mitigate climate change. This change cannot come from just students or just the administration, but needs to be the result of an integrated dialogue where all individuals involved pledge their support to change their own ways for the benefit of the whole.

Removing the trays is a tiny action but it has a positive effect on the environment we inhabit, both socially and environmentally. It’s a small change, but even the smallest changes count.

For those in support: Thank you for going trayless, even if it was just for a day. Thank you for contemplating what role food waste and trays play at Notre Dame.

For those in dissent: We’d love to hear from you. This is an initiative that needs all voices and your feedback will be extremely helpful going forward. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have strong feelings on the action.

Abigail Veres
director of communications

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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