Stupe introduces new sustainability efforts

Last Monday, Student Government launched the start of their new campaign “Just Say Basket” in a part­nership with Bon Appetit.
This new biodegradable box is a simple change, as are the posters. However, Student Government EVP for College Life Morgan Jacob said SG has been working hard on this campaign since last September.
Last year, Student Govern­ment took initiative and dis­cussed how it could continue building off the momentum of the Trayless Tuesday campaign. They wrestled with how to fix the problem of massive bags of Sty­rofoam accumulating in Stupe.
“It’s been a long process,” Ja­cob said. “Lots of research went into trying to find a good op­tion to be used in the Stupe, and then we of course had to have some more talks when we ini­tially brought the idea to Bon Appetit to switch these boxes.”
Bon Appetit welcomed Stu­dent Government’s proposal but they had to address the eco­nomic reality of such a change. Biodegradable boxes are sig­nificantly more expensive than standard Styrofoam. With that in mind, Student Government invested its time into research. “The research was focused on looking for biodegradable op­tions without going to an indus­trial composter and then finding some of the cheapest of those op­tions,” Jacob explained. Despite these efforts, it was clear that the cheapest supply of biode­gradable would not be enough.
Raul Delgado, Bon Appe­tit’s General Manager explained further, “The biodegradable containers we’re testing out for the Stupe are more than double the cost of the Styro­foam. So even if there was no reduction in the paper prod­ucts, and that stayed the same, it’s going to double the cost.”
The “Just Say Basket” cam­paign was created with the help of student based surveys. Ja­cob is optimistic from the stu­dent response so far. “I’ve seen a lot of students using baskets. A lot of people seem excited about it, and I think that’s re­ally great. I think if some stu­dents don’t necessarily care as much about the environment, it’s definitely not a change that makes their life any harder.”
Future president, and cur­rent Advisory council member of A Rocha, Yuxi Zhao believes the campaign’s message can’t be stressed enough. “It’s really great that we have biodegrad­able but I would think that the goal is to reduce that waste as much as possible, wheth­er it’s biodegradable or not.”
Bon Appetit says they will be testing the success of this campaign for the rest of the year. At the moment, Stupe continues to serve Styrofoam containers Sundays due to the influx of close to 1,000 students at dinner time. But in gen­eral, Delgado is optimistic for the change. “Hopefully the use of containers will be reduced somewhat if students really do catch on because there’s more buy-in and more students sup­port initiatives when it comes as a partnership with the students.”
But while the introduction of biodegradable containers is the newest of Bon Appetit’s envi­ronmentally friendly practices, it is by no means all that they do. On Wednesday, Bon Ap­petit partnered with A Rocha to open their kitchens and op­erations up to public in the form of a tour and Q&A afterwards.
A random group of fourteen students gathered at Anderson Commons at 4 p.m., and began their tour by walking downstairs in to the Sam’s café kitchens. Chef John Krickl then began to explain everything Bon Appetit did in its operations of prepar­ing 30,000 meals weekly for Anderson Commons as well the preparation to run Sam’s Café and Stupe. Students walked in a daze as Chef John led them through one winding staircase to another, showing how Bon Appetit sources 20 percent of their meat and produce locally. He pointed to steaming pots big enough to bathe in as em­ployees continued to bustle in preparation for the next meal. Chicken finger night always re­quired more prep beforehand, especially since every single meal was created fresh daily. The leftovers would go to Whea­ton’s Food Recovery program, which donates good quality leftovers in packaged contain­ers to those in the area who are food insecure. These donations are distributed twice a week.
By the time he finished at 4:36 p.m., he took his first real deep breath as he escorted them out of the kitchens up­stairs. In the Q&A one stu­dent asked what more students could do to help Bon Appetit in their environmental en­deavors. According to Chef John, reducing waste is vital.
Economics and sustainability have often been put at odds but it becomes clear it doesn’t have to be this way if students make the small changes presented to them. Both Student Govern­ment and Bon Appetit have invested a considerable amount of time and resources towards making Stupe and the school’s dining more sustainable. It is now up to students to play their part and “just say basket.”

Leave a Reply