We’re finally approaching the end of the semester. For most of us, finals are so close to being over that we can almost taste the sweet, sweet freedom from exams, due dates and 8 AMs. The upcoming break will be an exciting time to partake in holiday festivities! Unfortunately, this is a notorious time of the year for waste. ”How can I fully enjoy this season without destroying my favorite planet”, you might ask. Well, inquisitive and concerned reader, the good news is that I’m here to tell you that there are green ways to spend the holidays!
Giving gifts to a loved one? Swap old newspapers for wrapping paper or opt for reusable bags or recycled gift bags to cut down on packaging waste that ends up in landfills. A great gift idea or holiday activity would be donating money, items or time to an organization. We often forget that poverty is a sustainability issue and there’s no better time to help your neighbors than this giving season. If you do decide to donate items, call your local shelter or donation center and ask them what they really need first.
Lights are a big part of holiday décor but did you know that electricity is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions? You can make a big impact by turning off any light when not in use or hooking them up to timers that automatically turn lights on or off at designated times. More efficient lighting options are out there such as LEDs and solar powered outdoor lighting. These practices should be employed throughout the year, not just during the holidays.
Finally, our favorite part of the holidays here at Campus Dining and Shops is the food! Food waste is a recurring topic of discussion in this blog and the holidays are responsible of producing a lot of that consumer waste. If you are hosting a dinner, you should take note of how many guests you will be serving and plan out portion sizes that will yield the least amount of waste. A great approach to cooking is the “root to stem” method. This means cooking things such as vegetables and fruits whole, or saving odd and end pieces for other dishes. For example, leftover turkey and vegetable peels are the components to a great stock. Leftovers can also be a great lunch the next day or repurposed into new dishes. Sustainability and creativity in the kitchen go hand in hand!
Speaking of food waste, look out for our Waste “Less” Dinner event at C3 early in the 2018 semester. Come join us for delicious dishes designed to reduce waste! By taking what you can eat, you will be inducted into the “clean plate club” where members are eligible to win prizes!
I hope everyone has a fun and safe break. Relax, unwind and get ready for the next semester (or don’t think about it at all and let it sneak up on you). See you next year!
Student Sustainability Coordinator, CDS