By Shannon Alomar
Spring has sprung and so has the Sustainability Studies Club on campus this semester
Conducting their second annual waste audit this week, the club wants to make reasonable estimates of waste production in order to make informed decisions about the school’s waste management system. These include estimates on waste reduction, food donations, composting and other diversion methods.
A waste audit is a structured process that provides information pertaining to the amount and types of waste that are produced in certain areas. For the Sustainability Club’s evaluation they chose Bits and Bytes, an eatery on South Campus, to be the home base for their research. Throughout this weeklong collection of data, members of the club request that students and customers separate their waste by type like plastic, aluminum and compostable items.
Last year, the first waste audit was conducted by students in the Sustainable Urban and Suburban Development class as one of 15 on-campus research projects they partook in. Jared Garfinkel, senior sustainability studies major and club vice president, explained the findings from last year’s audit on campus.
“At our waste audit last year, we found that less than 10 percent of waste was landfill waste, meaning 90 percent or more of our waste is recoverable, compostable or recyclable. In addition, almost 50 percent of our waste was food waste, and fully 50 percent of the waste was plastic by volume,” Garfinkel said.
In regards to food waste, Garfinkel said that consumers should be more mindful of their consumption.
“There were examples of flagrant waste where burgers had only one or two bites, whole slices of pizza, a whole egg sandwich, where a student thought one might eat more but didn’t. It’s important to write about this and talk about it because students should value food and acknowledge the privilege of food security,” Garfinkel said.
Waste reduction is one of the club’s main focuses, and finding out how and why waste is produced is the beginning of finding the solution. Garfinkel stressed the importance of being educated about the effects of consumerism and how the public’s health can be affected by these acts that many people pay no attention to.
When asked about the importance of sustainability on campus, Blaine Volpe, a sophomore political science, global studies and geography major, vocalized her opinion on why people should be more receptive to preserving the environment.
“I think we as a population have already seen some devastating effects of climate change, especially on the Island. We need to do our part to protect the environment. Plus, having a sustainable campus is good publicity which can increase enrollment,” Volpe said.
With all of the possible effects in mind, Hofstra students can help mitigate waste by utilizing the recycling bins located in the eateries and several residence halls. They can also try sticking to the “plate first” rule that eliminates the usage of food containers that are eventually ill-disposed of, limiting orders to only the desired amount of food and saving leftovers, if possible.
“I think it is important to have an environmentally conscious campus because students will be able to see how it can be simple to make small positive changes that can make a large impact on the global environment,” said Steven Hartman, junior religion and global studies major. “Once students graduate they will go off into all corners of the country, hopefully spreading sustainable practices to the industries they get involved with.”
Garfinkel also mentioned some other efforts that can be made on Hofstra’s behalf to help make the campus more sustainable.
“We should have recycling bins at HofUSA… Hofstra should install an industrial composter to divert food waste from incineration, which will lead to avoided [greenhouse gas] emissions,” Garfinkel said.
Garfinkel also mentions a suggestion for the land that will be left vacant when Liberty and Republic Halls are knocked down: “Something that would enhance the education experience and bring awareness to food waste is an urban farm, which is an edible food garden on land that is in an urban or suburban environment, like the land on which Hofstra is built,” Garfinkel said.