AJ Spoth recycles his paper products at the Honors
College’s “zero-waste” lunch.
The task seemed implausible: feed 175 students without producing
an ounce of trash. Yet, that’s exactly what UB did last week
as it welcomed back students from summer vacation.
The meal, dubbed a “zero waste event,” took place
Sept. 6 in the Don Schack Student Lounge inside UB’s Honors
College in Capen Hall, North Campus.
Elizabeth Colucci, senior assistant director of the Honors
College, announced at 11:30 a.m. that lunch was served. While free,
there was a catch: Leftover food must be placed in compost buckets,
while paper plates and cups go into biodegradable bags to be
recycled later, she said.
Students complied without fuss. It was, after all, a free meal
of sandwiches, potato chips and cookies, said Haley Arnold, a
sophomore Honors Scholar majoring in chemistry.
“I don’t think I would go to something just because
it’s a zero-waste event,” she said. “But
I’m happy that the Honors College is doing it.”
In addition to composting and recycling paper goods, Colucci
said the Honors College would recycle plastic soda bottles and
condiment tubs, and reuse the plastic sandwich trays.
It was the second trash-free lunch served since August by the
Honors College, which teamed up with the Office of Sustainability
and Campus Dining & Shops to organize the events. The idea,
according to Erin Moscati, sustainability education manager in the
Office of Sustainability, is to show students, faculty and staff
another way to make UB a more sustainable and eco-friendly
UB composts food from its dining centers, has a 750-kilowatt
solar power installation and is committed to building
energy-efficient facilities, such as the new William R. Greiner
Residence Hall. But there is always more that can be done, said
Moscati, whose office advocates everything from car-pooling and
recycling to renewable energy and zero-waste events.
“We want to demonstrate to the UB community that there is
a different, more environmentally sustainable way to do
things,” she said.
The message is being heeded by Campus Dining & Shops,
Wellness Education Services and the Honors College, all of which
compost food scraps, she said. It’s also reflected in
UB’s eco-friendly building projects, which, in addition to
Greiner Hall, include Barbara and Jack Davis Hall on North Campus,
designed for gold certification under the U.S. Green Building
Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
(LEED) rating system.
The zero-waste events were aided by Johnston Paper, Auburn,
which provided cups and plates at discounted rates, Moscati said.
In addition to not generating waste, the events help reduce
UB’s environmental footprint and limit garbage collection
“We try to encourage the UB community to think about
creative ways to reduce their individual environmental impacts.
This project was a success because of the Honors College leadership
and their commitment to sustainability,” she said.