During our tabling last week, we heard a concern from a fellow IC student. He expressed his interest in the Meatless Monday movement but felt that when he skips eating meat on Monday's, his individual impact would be too low to have any positive environmental impact. He pointed out that the meat industry produced a lot of CO2 emissions and used a lot of water in the feeding, slaughtering, processing, and shipping that it went through before being served at our dining halls. But he argued that since whole process had already happened, and the meat is already waiting to be served at the dining hall, he might as well eat it- because the damage has already been done! We were thrilled he brought this concern to our attention and realized, he probably isn't the only student with this concern. So we'll break it down for you.
Yes, it is true that if one individual decides to avoid eating meat offered in the dining halls on Monday isn't going to change the environmental impact that it already had on the Earth. The animal waste, slaughtering process, production process, and transportation already happened and had its negative effect on the environment. But, there is a way we can fix this.
Our dining halls track all of the waste that goes out of the kitchens on a daily basis through a program called Lean Path. One of our jobs is to work with this program to track how much waste we are throwing away, whether it be trim waste, food scraps, or spoiled food. Before the kitchen staff is allowed to throw anything away he or she must weigh the waste on a scale, indicate what kind of food it is, and the reason for throwing it away. All of this information gets put onto a computer where we track the amount of waste.
Dining Services takes these numbers very seriously to help cut costs and waste. If enough students avoided meat on Monday, Lean Path will start to show a high amount of meat waste on Monday's. The more waste there is, the less meat the kitchen staff will serve on that day of the week. If the demand for meat goes down, Dining Services will start purchasing less meat.
We can help to save the Earth together! Just think, if an industry such as Ithaca College who feeds about 1,1000 students three meals per day had to cut back on the amount of meat that it purchases, that will have a huge environmental impact!