We often hear about changes happening at the national, state, and local levels, but what about on your school campus? Regardless of whether you’re in high school or college, there’s always a need for public service and leadership. There’s no need to wait until graduation to be an elected leader making change. Sometimes, the best person to help solve the problem is you!
This fall, I ran for and was elected to Miami University’s Associated Student Government as a Senator. Even though I was a (remote) freshman at the time, I still knew there were some problems on campus that I wanted to address. Two areas I felt most passionate about were civic engagement and bringing composting to our campus, so I joined our Governmental Relations and Sustainability committees.
Since my election, I’ve been working diligently to impact my campus and my constituents at large. I first dug into sustainability matters regarding how to best redirect our food waste. I’ve spent many meetings with our physical facilities department analyzing our current lack of composting and seeing how we could divert food waste. After realizing that tackling compost was a much bigger task than my committee could quickly address, I redirected the focus.
Each month, the average American throws out up to twenty pounds of food. This can quickly add up when you have thousands of students eating in dining halls every day. Even if we would soon begin composting on campus, we need to limit how much food we waste. Encouraging students to only take what they want will not only lessen our carbon footprint but also leave the extra food untouched in kitchen pans so they can potentially be donated to hungry community members.
In order to address this, I looked to what some others had done. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel if possible, I sought the advice of others who had successfully lessened how much food was thrown away in their dining halls. Dickinson college had created a program that encouraged students to specify how much food they wanted when ordering in the dining halls, encouraging them to only take what they wanted. With this information in mind, we began to see how we could bring this program to Oxford, OH.
I met with our dining hall director and our physical facilities department to see if we could make this idea a reality. With a few meetings and some administrative financial support, we looped in our ASG Secretary of Communications to design the stickers and posters. Within the span of a few weeks, we had these items installed in each of the dining halls and began our social media educational campaign on how to use the stickers. These stickers, posted on each buffet, ask students to “pick their portion” and specify how much food they would like with the modifiers of taste, half, single, or double portion.
Now, a whole month into the program, we’re optimistic about the impact. While we’re still evaluating its effectiveness and conducting our survey, we’re hopeful that students are more cognizant about their carbon footprint. Encouraging students to think twice about how big of a scoop they take compared to what they actually want will foster more considerate citizens who attempt to waste as little they can.
People often don’t think they can make a big change, whether it be with the environment or in their community, but in all reality, the change begins with you! Join IGNITE to get started and make a difference in your community today.