Approximately 550 students participated in the Trayless challenge during the Food Waste Awareness Week from Jan. 23 to 27. As a result, the Andrews cafeteria saved up to 570 pounds of food while, on average, it wastes 2,650 pounds of food per week. A successful sea of green ribbon pins floated throughout campus by the end of the week to display their cooperation with the challenge. While the project can be labeled a success there were instances when the core initiators were met with challenging factors during the week.
AUSA Senator Isabelle Hwang (sophomore, biology, pre-medicine), who organized the Food Waste Awareness Week project with her sister Irene Hwang (senior, biochemistry, pre-dentistry) said, “At the beginning of the of the week I was disappointed because it seemed as if we had wasted the same amount, if not more, of food.”
However, as the week progressed and word started to spread on campus about the project, the quantity of food waste started to dwindle. Another concern the Hwang sisters had was how many people completely disregarded the project.
Isabelle said, “I thought giving up a tray would be an easy task, yet to my surprise many greeted the challenge with disdain. It sounds like such an easy thing to do but I was shocked when many people said ‘No, thank you, I like my tray’”
Nonetheless, the project gained traction, and more and more people joined the movement.
While results from a study from American University indicated that campuses that go trayless waste on average 32 percent less food, Andrews University forewent approximately 21 percent of its waste.
Isabelle said, “I think a week was too short of time period, and if we were to do this again, it should be a week or two more because by the end of the week when more and more food was being saved the challenge had ended.”
The sisters said they would like to make Food Waste Awareness Week an annual event, possibly in coordination with Earth Day and hopefully with the support of more clubs or a new Andrews University student organization promoting awareness of environmental issues.
When asked about her vision for future food waste awareness weeks, Isabelle said, “It would be great to have either an annual trayless challenge or maybe one day a week the Terrace Cafe could goes tray-less.”
Despite the many who were attached to their trays, some students appreciated the efforts.
Hannah Gallant (freshman, English secondary education) said, “I found it inspiring to see that some people are passionate about being aware of how much food they waste, and furthermore that they are willing to actually take action to prevent it.”
“It helped me realize how much food I wasted,” Michelle Rae Sabangan (sophomore, pre-physical therapy) said. “I usually get like three or four plates, and having to put all of that food on one single plate made me see that I don’t need all that food. I saw how much I wasted, and in a way it also caused me to clarify what’s important to me.”