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:  http://www.clackamas.us/sustainability/tips.html for great tips on how to get started!




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