Students Participate in Environmental Self-Awareness Events for Earth Week Celebration


“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 Waste. 

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. 




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