Eating clubs try to reduce waste
According to members of Greening the Street, a committee of the campus sustainability group Greening Princeton, up to 12,000 cups are used on a given weekend at the Street.
“That is the most wasteful social practice in the eating clubs,” Terrace Club social chair Raymond Weitekamp ’10 said.
Greening the Street brings together representatives from each eating club to exchange ideas about how clubs can incorporate sustainable practices into their operations.
“There’s been a positive response from most of the clubs. Some are just more involved [in sustainability initiatives] than others,” Greening the Street coordinator Fiona Maguire ’11 said, adding, “Terrace and Tower [clubs] are doing a lot — not to say other clubs aren’t doing stuff independently.”
The benefits of cooperation are already apparent in clubs’ efforts to deal more sustainably with food waste. Several clubs are in the midst of negotiations with Neil McIntyre, a pig farm owner who picks up food waste from the dining halls, to allow him to pick up waste from the eating clubs as well. McIntyre did not respond to a request for comment.
“This [method of food waste management] is currently cheaper for the school and potentially for the clubs than paying for the waste to be dumped in [landfills],” Maguire explained.
The clubs in attendance at the first Greening the Street meeting were Terrace, Tower, Cap & Gown Club, Ivy Club and Quadrangle Club, Greening Princeton co-president Carol Dreibelbis ’11 said.
“It’s something that works better when everyone does it because it’s easier if he only has to do one pickup, and it’s also cheaper for the clubs,” Tower sustainability chair Molly Slotznick ’10 said of the food waste management project.
Maguire added that Quad has made arrangements with McIntyre in the past, but that she was not sure why the arrangements are no longer in place. Quad president Zackory Burns ’10 did not respond to a request for comment.
Tower recently measured how much food was thrown away in the course of a week. “We experimented with how much waste we had, and so we separated the food waste, like in the dining halls,” Slotznick said.
“The total weight for the week was about 700 pounds, but this doesn’t include kitchen waste such as peelings,” Slotznick explained.
Tower sustainability chairs are deciding with the club house manager whether Tower will sign on to the food waste collection plan, she added.
“It’s a helpful statistic,” Maguire said of the waste collected at Tower. “Clubs will vary because some are bigger than others,” she explained, “but it’s a good start to help us estimate the amount of waste.”
Greening the Street is also working to expand individual club sustainability projects.
“In the fall, I noticed ... [that] people would use disposable cups because they were bigger [than our mugs]. What we did was ask the house manager to order bigger mugs, so now people use those [at the club] instead of the disposable ones,” Slotznick said.
Maguire noted that this was “an easy, cheap solution.” She added, “Different clubs are working on [getting] take-out containers that are more sustainable.”
Terrace has also attempted to make a dent in the large number of disposable cups used each weekend by buying beer steins for all club members. Unfortunately, Weitekamp said, “it’s been tough to get people to bring them out, even if we provide a little shelf for them to put them on. The steins haven’t taken off in the way we imagined they might.”
But the club is not ready to give up. “The next step is just ... [to] buy permanent cups to use. We’re working on buying normal cups so that everyone’s drinking out of [those],” Weitekamp said. He added that he is not convinced that drinking games are a reason for the overwhelming use of plastic cups.
Like Terrace, Tower is considering purchasing beer steins. “The members would bring them and would not be using the [plastic] Solo cups,” Slotznick explained. But she acknowledged that the club might face the same problems that Terrace experienced.
Another initiative by Terrace, which Greening the Street hopes to expand to other clubs, is the replacement of all light bulbs with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs).
“There are new lighting suppliers that don’t take long to turn on. People think of them as just being the curly-‘Q’ ones that take long to turn on, but this is not the case,” Maguire said. She added that several clubs’ sustainability chairs are looking into this option.
Tower is also considering the switch to CFLs, Slotznick said, noting, “There [are] a lot of kinds of light bulbs, and we need to make sure the sockets fit and that they produce the right kind of light.” The club may also purchase recycling bins since it does not currently have bins to recycle papers, bottles or cans.
In addition, Greening the Street is working to expand the Student Volunteer Council’s Food TASK Project — which delivers leftover dining hall food to a soup kitchen in Trenton on Tuesdays and Fridays — to the eating clubs.
“Last fall, Charter and Colonial participated in the program, but things eventually kind of fizzled out,” Maguire said.
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