Friday, February 17, 2017


It is Week 2 of Recyclemania and we are proud to announce that last week with SWIFT (Stop Wasting Ithaca's Food Today), we recovered 237 pounds of food for donation. We also recovered 125 gallons of used cooking oil for processing into bio-fuel. However, as we emphasize waste reduction and recycling, we should also think about the power of reuse.

Reuse refers to any activity that lengthens the life of an item. It can be accomplished through purchasing durable goods and keeping valuable materials out of the waste stream. Unlike recycling, reuse does not require reprocessing of an old item into a new product. Therefore, it greatly reduces the amount of energy consumed by manufacturing and transport. 
“It’s pretty amazing that our society has reached a point where the effort necessary to extract oil from the ground, ship it to a refinery, turn it into plastic, shape it appropriately, truck it to a store, buy it, and bring it home is considered to be less effort than what it takes to just wash the spoon when you are done with it.”

According to the Earth Policy Institute, each year, 29 billion plastic water bottles are produced for use in the United States. Manufacturing them requires the equivalent of 17 million barrels of crude oil. Many would say that plastic bottles are recyclable, but water bottles in the recycling bin have a long journey ahead of them. First, they are inspected in a collection facility for contaminants. Then, they are washed and chopped into flakes. The flakes are dried and melted into plastic lava, which is filtered and finally shaped into new products. Sure, recycling a plastic water bottle is convenient for you at the College but, the carbon footprint is much less for a reusable water bottle.

 IC dining recognizes and rewards the power of reuse. A study by Starbucks in 2000 calculated that the average paper-based coffee cup produced 0.24 lb of CO2.  Disposable cups not only contribute directly to the creation of a greenhouse gas but also a lot of waste. One cup per day results in 23 lb of waste by the end of the year, just from the cups that are thrown away. They cannot be recycled because of the plastic coating on the inside of the paper.

By bringing your own reusable cup to any of our locations, you save 15 cents on a hot beverage and reduce your carbon footprint. That is a free cup of coffee after 10 purchases with a reusable mug. Keep calm and carry a cup!!



Monday, February 6, 2017

Our Carbon Footprint

Recyclemania, starts this week and this is a good time to think about our carbon footprint because waste reduction and recycling are very powerful, and easy, tools we can use to reduce CO2 emissions. Dining Services will be collaborating with the Office of Energy Management and Sustainability by reporting the amount of food-scrap recycled as compost or recovered for donation to the food insecure in our community. We also report the amount of cooking oils that a local company reclaims and converts to biodiesel.

The term carbon footprint refers to the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to support human activities enabled by the burning of fossil fuels, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Our daily habits like showering, driving, or grabbing a coffee all leave a carbon foot print because all of these activities consume some sort of fossil fuel and release CO2 into the atmosphere.

If we are mindful of our individual carbon footprint, we can use simple changes in our habits to reduce CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change. When you choose a reusable water bottle instead of buying a water in a plastic bottle, you reduce your carbon footprint. Recycling that water bottle you bought reduces your footprint, too. Do you remember learning the “Three R’s”: reduce, reuse, recycle?  That little mantra was introduced to help us be mindful of our waste footprint and is useful for making choices to reduce CO2. 

Dining Services continues its nearly thirty-year partnership with the College in putting the Three Rs into practice in daily operations. Everyone in Dining collects and recycles bottles, cans, plastic containers and cardboard as part of the daily routine; it is a habit. We continue the recycling of food-scraps through composting that began in 1993, diverting an average of 260 tons per year.

We have all heard that we throw away something like 30% of the food produced, and that food production has a substantial carbon footprint. One way of reducing food waste in dining halls is by not using trays; we stopped using them in 2011. We wasted an average of 1/3 of a pound of food per meal when we had trays, now that waste is ¼ of a pound per meal.  This change also helps us to be more mindful of how much we eat, and that helps keep off the unwanted weight.

Then there is Meatless Monday, another significant way to reduce our carbon footprint because of all the foods we produce and eat, meat has the biggest carbon footprint. Everyone in the country eating one-quarter pound less beef per week for a year has the same impact as taking 10 million cars off the road.

If you want to learn what mindful habits you can adopt to reduce your carbon footprint, check out this website: for great tips on how to get started!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Welcome back!

Welcome back to Ithaca and to a bright new year! We hope you all enjoyed a restorative winter break and had the opportunity to spend time with friends and family.  As the new semester begins, IC Dining’s resolution is to be more mindful of the impact the choices we make have on our world. Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow Plan that focuses on action in four key areas guides our commitment to Sustainability: health, planet, community and our people, check it out. You can help us make our campus more sustainable by making mindful choices that have meaningful impacts, small steps every day.

Food waste has been a recurring topic in the national media, and it makes sense for us to evaluate our performances. Last semester, the result of Weigh the Waste indicated 0.10 lbs. of waste per person for dinner at Terrace dining hall. Well, the USDA points out that the average person in the U.S. wastes approximately 0.30 lbs. per meal. Therefore, we are doing well compared to the national average, being below average is a good thing! In addition, Ithaca College has been diverting food scraps to composting since 1993. And 125 gallons of unusable oil from the dining halls is used to produce 100 gallons of fuel every week. Moreover, Stop Wasting Ithaca's Food Today (SWIFT) recovers food twice a week for donation to the Rescue Mission, ensuring that IC dining halls’ excess food is not wasted.

This semester, IC Dining is participating in Recycelemania to reinforce the practice of recycling. RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over an 8-week period each spring, colleges across the United States and Canada report the amount of recycling and trash collected each week. In turn, they are ranked in various categories based on who recycles the most on a per capita basis, as well as which schools have the best recycling rate as a percentage of total waste and which schools generate the least amount of combined trash and recycling.
 We are ready to roll! And we hope you are ready too!