I recently read an article in the Collegian that caught my attention. To give you a little background about myself, I am currently studying nutrition and food science with a concentration in food safety, and I hold the position of assistant student manager at Braiden Dining Hall. I have been fortunate to have worked for dining services for over two years in all of the dining centers in some capacity at some point or another during my time with dining services, so I have also been able to see with my own eyes exactly what is happening in our dining centers.
With that being said, I agree with a few things that were mentioned in the article “The almost green and gold University” by Rachel Musselmann, but there were also a few inaccuracies. We do need student involvement to increase in recycling and composting, but we do offer these services and encourage them constantly. In Allison Dining Hall, there is an entire display showing students what can be recycled or composted. Since the display has been set up, I have talked to several students that were excited to learn about what they could recycle and compost because they had never known before. Eventually, the plan is to expand displays like the one at Allison to other dining halls, as well in the relatively near future to help educate our fellow students and increase participation in the program.
Also, at Ram Welcome, dining services has a zero waste program that is being used to not only educate our fellow students, but also any family or friends that visit as well. Any food scraps and SunChips bags are composted, the bento boxes the dinners are served in and drink containers (both cans and bottles) are recycled. I actually had the joy of encouraging the participants of Ram Welcome to contribute to our zero waste program and it was a great time for everyone!
The article stated, “…recycling in dining halls is truly at the discretion of the students,” which is not completely true. There are recycling and compost bins in a majority of our dining halls for students, but in every kitchen there are at least one recycling bin and several compost bins. Our employees are very good about recycling what we can and even better at composting all of our food scraps. Since our recycling bins are outside behind the dining halls, students in the residence halls use them too. A lot of staff, both student hourly and state classified staff, have spent time trying to sort some of the items that are put into the recycling bins or trash by mistake, no matter who put the incorrect product in the container. We also work really hard to divert food waste from the landfill. In dining services, there can be up to 10,000 lbs. of food waste taken to the composter on the foothills campus a week. That adds up to about 93 percent of all of our food waste that is diverted from the landfill.
A quote from Professor Dale Lockwood mentioned that “the key is disincentives to driving in order to encourage other, greener methods of transportation,” and while that may be true, Housing and Dining Services is offering an incentive for students and staff to ride their bikes. This past year when the Pavilion at Laurel Village opened, a special shop called the Spoke opened up in the northwest corner of the lower level. At the Spoke, students and staff members can take their bike and, as long as they are willing to learn how to fix their bike, services are offered for free. The student or staff member just has to pay for the parts needed (if any). No other universities (that we know of) are currently offering a service like this on their campuses. This service offers members of our Ram community a place to make sure their bikes are tuned up and ready to ride to and from Colorado State University, which is a great start.
There is always going to be something that CSU can improve on doing. However, CSU is leading other universities in the push to become sustainable. Housing and Dining Services are doing so much already and are planning on doing even more. With my privilege as an assistant student manager, I get to help influence and train other students and staff members to be more sustainable on a daily basis. I am honored to be a part of CSU dining services, especially since I have the opportunity to share how Housing and Dining Services is increasing sustainability at CSU.
Assistant student manager at Braiden Dining Center