“This event really illustrates to us how much food we all
waste,” said Hardin-Simmons University junior Holly Lewis regarding the Weigh
the Waste event in the HSU dining hall.
Lewis, HSU junior biology major and president of the
Environmental Services Club is in Dr. Rick Hammer’s environmental ethics class
and was one of several student volunteers that helped with sorting and weighing
what students, faculty, and staff discarded from lunch during Tuesday’s Weigh
The event is part of HSU’s Earth Week celebration (April
21-25), hosted by HSU Green and the HSU Environmental Services Club.
Club members, along with Hammer, assistant professor of
biology and club sponsor, and Kathy Diamond, HSU’s ARAMARK food services
director, collected and sorted through each tray as lunch patrons were leaving
the dining area. The sorted contents were dumped into buckets that were later put
on the scales.
“Weighing what we throw away during just one meal is a way
for us to become more self-aware of the things we casually toss,” said Hammer. “The
HSU Environmental Services Club wanted to aid in our recognition of what we
throw away by sorting and weighing it.”
Diamond said there were four weights taken: paper waste,
compost waste (apple cores, etc.), recyclable waste (plastics), and the real
waste – food that was simply not eaten.
Diamond pointed to a whole ham sandwich and a half-consumed
cone of pistachio ice cream. “Not a single bite was taken from the sandwich.
Only the top part of the ice cream is gone,” she observed.
“We have talked a lot about creation care in Dr. Hammer’s
class,” said Lewis of the exercise in awareness.
“When God created our planet, he looked at it and said, ‘It
is good.’ The challenge we have today is determining how humans impact our planet,
how we should care for God’s creation, and consider what we are leaving for the
future,” said Lewis.
Several events help to mark Earth Week on campus. Monday was
deemed as No Waste Day, challenging students, faculty, and staff to spend one
day being conscious of only using things that could be recycled. The campus
community was asked to find alternatives to using paper towels and buying fast
food with containers that would be thrown in the trash.
Other events include watching the Disney movie Wall-E and bringing containers for
beverages and popcorn that would not be wasted, Conserve Water Day, and Human
Power Day – encouraging students not to drive to school. “Don’t forget your
helmet when you walk, bike, run, scooter, skateboard, Rollerblade, ride your horse,
or unicycle your way to class,” reminded the Earth Week flyer distributed by email
and across campus posting boards.
Another event encourages students to join the Green Team in
Moody Center this Friday to participate in turning off lights across the campus
prior to the weekend.
Hammer offered the results of Weigh the Waste Day just two
hours after ending the 2-hour, 45-minute event with 489 participants:
- 1 pound of recyclable materials consisting of plastic straws, bottles, and one newspaper = 0.3 ounces per student
- 6.5 pounds of trash consisting primarily of used paper napkins = 0.21 ounces per student
- 11 pounds of compostable waste, primarily banana skins, orange rinds, and uneaten fruit salad with a good dose of spinach leaves = 0.36 ounces per student
- 42 pounds of food waste consisting of items that could have/should have been eaten = 1.37 ounces per student
Students in Hammer’s environmental ethics class also had an
opportunity to tour the kitchen and see food preparation from start to finish.
Hammer said he hopes to have results soon from two other local universities
participating in the Weigh the Waste challenge.
"In many ways, taking care of the environment is my way of
also taking care of people,” said Lewis, who has plans to attend medical school
after graduation from HSU.