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A Student Says While Food Waste on Campus Is a Growing Problem, Solutions Are at Hand

By Will Torres

Shuriz Hishmeh ‘21 an environmentmental science major(Photo courtesy of Shuriz Hishmeh)

Shuriz Hishmeh, a senior environmental science major, wrote “Food Waste Proposal for Adelphi University,” a document that he said, “aims to be both a comprehensive review of food waste disposal methods, as well as a direct response to Adelphi University’s current need to comply with waste regulation.”

Food waste, defined by the USDA, is food that has been thrown out for pre- or post-consumption. Pre-consumed items are inedible food scraps, such as fruit peels and food trimmings, while post-consumed items are food waste that is discarded after someone has eaten it. As a whole, food waste has a correlation with greenhouse gas emissions and has led to an increase of waste in landfills.

The proposal at hand considers local regulation and weighs in on different solutions to solve food waste on campus. Multiple solutions were proposed, at various costs, effects on the environment, required maintenance, implementation and benefit for the university. Shuriz believes there should be an on-campus composting facility via Micro Bins, which would allow nutrients to be recycled back into the environment, minimize greenhouse gas emissions from both food decay and transportation, provide hands-on education for students and faculty, and produce fresh compost that could be used around campus or sold.

As an environmental science major, Shuriz said he believes this proposal will help “prove there is an issue with food waste on campus.” He believes that simply stating there is an issue is not enough to fix a problem. Using Rochester Institute of Technology’s Food Waste Estimator, he estimated that there are approximately 4.13 tons of food per week that need to be disposed of on campus. He’s hoping he can open people’s eyes to the issue and ultimately push students and faculty to request university administration to fix as well as encourage people to be generally aware of their actions.

Micro Bin composting (Photo Credit: O2Compost)

When it comes to food waste on our campus, it starts at every vendor that serves food and is extended from commuters, faculty and staff that bring food to campus from home. Out of all the options for on-campus food, it is my opinion that the University Center and Post Hall, which are the largest food vendors and producers on campus, are possibly the largest probable source of food waste. I have seen people throw out almost full containers of food and half-empty bottles into both trash cans and recycling bins. On multiple occasions, I have overheard people saying they included something they don’t like in their meal due to their meal plan forcing them to purchase an item with water and a side.

As a member of the Environmental Action Coalition, an on-campus club dedicated to educating and acting for local and global environmental sustainability and justice, I believe that more people should, at the very least, be aware of their responsibilities on campus in terms of being environmentally sustainable. It is my understanding that when people are comfortable, they are resistant to change. This is evident when it comes to recycling, pollution and food consumption as people misuse recycling bins, litter and literally tend to bite off more than they can chew.

We should be conscious of what we consume and how much of it will be wasted if we don't eat it. I believe Micro Bins could be beneficial for our university as there are many benefits to composting. The EPA states that composting “enriches the soil, helps retain moisture, suppresses plant diseases and pests; reduces the need for chemical fertilizers; reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.” While most of those benefits might not matter to the layman, it is important for the environment, which affects all of those who live in it.

If we focus on this purely from a financial standpoint, if the university is able to reduce the amount of waste it creates it can reduce the number of heavy wastes, such as organic materials it transports to a waste management facility; ultimately, saving money due to the reduction of fuel and energy usage.

Shuriz said he wants students, faculty and administration to realize they are contributing to the issue of food waste and they should ask themselves how they can help improve the situation. I believe this proposal is an excellent start to making Adelphi a greener campus in addition to educating students about how they can be more environmentally conscious.

It is both of our beliefs that if you can educate yourself and act on at least one topic that contributes to environmental harm, whether it be pollution, recycling, food waste or something else you find pressing, we can eventually save our planet.

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