Using her own experiences, teamwork, and a network of professionals, Tingyu Zheng and her team are on their way to reducing food waste as part of their project for the ELN Sophomore Living Learning Community.
Tingyu is an international student from China who is studying accounting here at UB. She joined the living learning community because it sounded like a great experience. “It’s a whole year program, and you can do something for the community. I thought it would be pretty cool to do something throughout sophomore year.”
Her group started out with a broad goal of reducing waste, but the process to focus on a more specific problem and solution was by no means smooth. The first idea they developed was reducing food waste. Tingyu had seen this problem for herself while working in the Governors Dining Center. But while they continued brainstorming, another team member asked, “Well, what about recycling?” The team liked that idea and considered organizing a fashion show exhibiting clothing made out of recycled materials to encourage students on campus to recycle.
But they soon realized how big a project that would be and were pondering other ideas when they were put in contact with Erin Moscati, UB’s Sustainability Education Manager. From talking with her, they learned all about UB’s current sustainability initiatives, such as RecycleMania and their “Weigh the Waste” program, which focuses on reducing food waste. After all that brainstorming, the team ended up going forward with Tingyu’s original idea to reduce food waste.
Tingyu has many thoughts regarding how her team will contribute to the “Weigh the Waste” and RecycleMania programs. “We are going to invest some new ideas, and we might make some posters or set up a table in the SU to raise awareness, educating about the waste. I didn’t see much about RecycleMania before, so raising awareness would be a good starting point.”
Though the process of idea formation wasn’t exactly a smooth one for her group, Tingyu has learned valuable lessons in teamwork, communication, and the importance of leveraging the people and networks available to UB students through the Experiential Learning Network. Her mentors and the professionals she was put in contact with changed the course of her entire project, allowing Tingyu and her team to find the best ways to promote waste reduction across campus.
If you also want to make a positive impact in the UB or greater Buffalo community through a hands-on learning experience, apply for the ELN’s Sophomore Living Learning Community at tinyurl.com/UBELN18! Applications are open through Feb. 16.
Written by Amanda Hellwig ‘19