Thresher Staff

The Zero Waste Campaign’s first Food Waste Reduction Competition led to a 23.3 percent reduction in waste at Sid Richardson College Kitchen, a 15.8 percent reduction at West Servery and an 11.1 percent reduction at Baker College Kitchen, according to Baker College Eco-Rep Travis Kwee. The numbers from South and North Serveries are still being calculated.

Kwee, a sophomore, described the many environmental effects of food waste and the possibility of resolving the issue.

“Many organizations independently came up with the idea that food waste is a huge issue that extends to many other issues such as water shortages, world hunger and methane emissions” Kwee said. “It spans multiple issues and is easily solvable by pushing people to change their lifestyles to decrease food waste.”

The Student Association Environmental Committee, Eco-Reps, Environmental Issues: Rice into the Future (ENST 302) class and the Rice Environmental Club collaborated to create the Zero Waste Campaign.

SA Environmental Committee Co-Chair and Eco-Rep Kira Bre Clingen said she looks forward to the potential longer term effects the waste campaign could have, including composting initiatives, more sustainable energy sources and separate instead of single-stream recycling.

“We’re definitely seeing more awareness and also more of an interest about actively engaging in conversations about the environment” Bre Clingen, a Duncan College senior, said. “This is about raising awareness and fighting against the culture of apathy towards environmental issues that Rice has. 

Wiess College New Student Representative Avery Jordan said the Food Waste Reduction Competition could be repeated annually.

“We’ll be sending out a final survey to all the colleges and students to get feedback on how many people we reached and what we could have done better,” Jordan said.

Emily Foxman, Lovett College Eco-Rep and a student in the ENST 302 class that co-sponsored the campaign, talked about the future of combatting food waste on campus.

“Our long-term plan is based on education initiatives,” Foxman, a sophomore, said. “We want to keep up the posters that we have in some of the serveries. We’re trying to determine if there’s a correlation between the posters that are up and the difference in waste reduction between serveries.”

For the competition, servery staff weighed trash from different colleges six times over the course of two weeks, then weighed five meals during the week of the competition. 

The numbers from the two periods were then averaged individually and compared to produce a percentage decrease. The final results will be announced this week and a follow up weighing will occur in December to judge the permanent effects of the campaign.

The campaign also included a clean plate challenge, in which individuals were encouraged to take pictures of themselves and their empty plates.