Whether it’s overbuying at the grocery store or tossing out leftovers from take-out, let’s face it — we all waste food.
It’s easy to look at this wastefulness as a byproduct of modern North American consumerism. We live in a “buy more, spend more, waste more” society. When it comes to food, it’s a problem born of large portion sizes at restaurants and grocery stores coupled with a culture where it’s OK to buy more than you need.
Students, with our tight budgets and hectic lifestyles, are prime offenders when it comes to wasting food. Think about student houses with fridges full to the brim – and no one even remembers who bought what, or when. For busy students, convenience often trumps better decision-making when it comes to food choices.
Unfortunately, fixing food waste — on campus or in society — isn’t as simple as turning off a light bulb. Because when food spoils, its just trash, whereas conserving energy has an immediate impact on your hydro bill.
So how do you encourage people, and students in particular, to start composting? The ideal way — since on our own, we’re too busy and preoccupied — is a top-down approach.
At Western, that means implementing a campus-wide composting solution. If it’s convenient, students will use compost bins. It eases any guilt we might have about our apathy and leaves us with the warm fuzzies. So why not?
But education about composting is also key. It’s hard to care about it if students don’t even know the point. Perhaps an awareness campaign coupled with an increased number of compost bins around campus would wake people up to the cause.
Changing packaging materials is also crucial. Unfortunately, the more steps it takes to compost something, the less likely people are to do it. But having biodegradable plates would let people drop them off in the compost bin in a swift motion, saving time and effort.
Overall, these potential initiatives — which serve to raise awareness and increase convenience — echo the prior push for recycling. What was once seen as unusual is now commonplace, thanks to local governments stepping in to encourage and educate the public. Now, it’s hard to imagine folks not putting a blue box on the curb each week.
When it comes to composting, that mental shift is crucial to making more people hop on the bandwagon. On campus, all it will take is a push from above to get the ball rolling — then students have to do the rest.
—The Gazette Editorial Board