By Andreas Garza
Dorm life will always have its quirks and oddities here at CI. Santa Cruz Village has the occasional poltergeist and Anacapa Village will always have the weekly fire alarm because someone tried frying a tortilla without any oil. One of the more recent additions to housing life manifested as a small, white plastic box with a green top, labeled “Food Only.”
Here are the facts: according to Feeding America, nearly 40% of food is wasted in the United States. Food waste is oftentimes not composted properly and, when improperly disposed in a landfill, it can produce methane and carbon dioxide, which are the main greenhouse gasses contributing to our climate crises.
CI’s food waste prevention and compost program are a direct result of California’s Senate Bill 1383 approved in Sept. 2016 and put into effect Jan. 1, 2022. Finding its way in the cafeteria, student villages and academic buildings, the bill requires four things for the University to comply by 2024: educational signage, universal color coding, food waste recycling and edible food recovery.
These can be seen best in action in both Islands and Lighthouse cafe. Third-year business major, Julia Shapiro, works as a Climate Corps student, which is a partnership program between the Center for Community Engagement and the Office of Sustainability. She was involved in making available waste stations with a third, green-labeled food waste bin in conjunction with recycle and trash bins.
In order to further compliance and effectiveness, the Facilities Services recently provided a smaller version of these food waste bins, where students are able to dispose of their food waste in the small white and green buckets, and eventually designated food waste trash cans outside of dorm dumpsters. Housing is an auxiliary and not state funded, so they are responsible for distributing the bins and running their own food waste collection program with the provided containers and stickers.
Another goal of Senate Bill 1383 is to divert 20% of edible food to people in need before composting. “Feeding people is the highest priority over composting,” said Roxane Beigel-Coryell, CI Sustainability & Energy Director. The new food waste buckets are a part of a much bigger shift here at CI to reduce our waste and footprint.
Facilities Services Sustainability hopes to have more interplay between the Auxiliary Services and Basic Needs Program to meet this goal, where the Dolphin Pantry could receive donations from dining services. Other excess edible food can be donated to food shares in the surrounding area.
By taking into consideration how much excess edible food is donated, dining services could perhaps adjust the amount of food produced to reduce waste where it begins.
CI will be working with E.J. Harrison & Sons, Inc. for collection of waste and eventual transfer to Agromin, a local landscaping supply store in Oxnard, California, for composting.
Beigel-Coryell and the Facilities Services hope to reach more of the student body and encourage further participation through various avenues, including educational social media/meetings, as well as word of mouth through student employees currently employed by the Office of Sustainability and Climate Corps.
“I think we’re doing better than some campuses,” Beigel-Coryell said. “We’ve at least got the bins out, we have a collection system in place and our waste haulers are taking it … but we also need more education about what goes in the bins, because we’re seeing a lot of trash in the food waste bin, which only food can go in the bin.”
For further information or questions regarding CI’s new direction in food waste prevention and disposal, you can contact Beigel-Coryell via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message @sustainabilityatcsuci on Instagram.