A major initiative within our committee has to do with promoting awareness of food waste in the dining halls through monthly plate-scrapings in John Jay. We've also worked with Columbia Dining to raise awareness of new sustainable efforts, such as composting in Ferris! Additionally, we support students cooking on their own by distributing compost bins. Upcoming initiatives include advocating for the expansion of compost bins to locations in Lerner outside of Ferris; collaborating with Columbia Dining on an educational campaign on the value of reducing meat consumption; and promotion of sustainable habits such as bringing your own water bottle and utensils to the dining halls and restaurants, bringing your own bags for grocery shopping, and paying attention to local, seasonal, and certified-sustainable foods. We also attend approximately monthly Dining Advisory meetings with Columbia administrators and other student representatives to provide suggestions and feedback to Columbia Dining.
Meeting Time: Sunday 6-7 pm during general body meetings
We hold plate scrapings once a month in John Jay Dining Hall from 5-9 pm. These events are a collaborative effort between the John Jay Dining staff and student volunteers recruited from the EcoReps general body and residence halls’ sustainability liaisons.
To remind students about their food waste, volunteers guide students to scrape their leftover food from their plates into buckets; students with no food scraps can enter in a lottery for Dining Dollars! From the data collected at plate scrapings, we found that an average of 308 pounds of food is wasted every dinner period at John Jay alone. We hope these events foster an enduring appreciation of the value of food beyond monetary costs by highlighting the land, water, and energy requirements of food production and distribution. (Remember: start with a taste so you won’t waste!!).
Why do we advocate for reducing meat consumption through Green Monday and other promotions?
The big picture is that meat is resource-thirsty, polluting, and sometimes unhealthy. Time, energy, land, water, and soil nutrients go into producing meat--in much higher amounts than plants—resulting in myriad impacts on the environment, from ongoing habitat loss to water pollution to global warming.
For example, a 2012 FAO report found that 26% of Earth’s total land area is used for livestock grazing, and 33% of arable lands are used for growing crops destined for livestock feeds. The FAO also found that the livestock industry releases 14.5% of global greenhouse emissions (65% of these come from cattle).
While vegetarian and vegan diets have been adopted successfully by a growing percentage of the population, merely reducing your meat consumption can have a significant impact.
To support students cooking in residence halls without an organics collection, we distribute compost collection bins at the beginning of the year to interested students. They can then drop of their food scraps biweekly at the Greenmarket next to Lerner every Thursday and Sunday. We have also been involved in the transition to composting students’ waste in Ferris.