With statistics such as these, it is no surprise that different groups within Seton Hill University (SHU) are trying to reuse, reduce and recycle products as much as possible.
Achtzehn, director of food services for Aramark, has been trying to reduce food waste and take other recycling measures in SHU’s Lowe Dining Hall since
the introduction of trayless dining in 2009. Customer choice waste, or food left behind by customers on the trays, was measured daily for a month.
“Then we made an announcement that we were taking the trays away and would continue to weigh the dish room scrap to see if there was a measurable difference. The results were overwhelming,” said Achtzehn.
In March of 2009 the cafeteria staff collected 6,152 pounds of trash. If multiplied by nine months, the approximate time of full operation of the cafeteria, roughly $47,000 worth of food was being wasted.
In April of the same year, after the introduction of tray less dining, only 923 pounds of food was wasted. Simply removing trays created an 85 percent reduc- tion in food waste.
Achtzehn won the Real Food Award for Food Service Directors or Managers in 2011 for his work with trayless dining. When the award was given, The Real Food Challenge website stated that, “Darren is a leader in dining hall sustainability efforts at Seton Hill University.”
“We only have one Earth, if we don’t take the time to treat it right we are going to lose her. Small steps taken consistently will make a big difference,” said Achtzehn. Achtzehn hopes to continue using innovative techniques within the cafeteria to reduce, reuse and recycle.
“I’m working on a process to convert our used fryer oil to a Bio Diesel to fuel the Lawn equipment on campus. This would reduce the amount of fossil fuel we purchase,” said Achtzehn.
The Chemistry Club at Seton Hill is also working to promote recycling on campus. “Green chemistry principles are a prominent issue that many chemists and their research programs adhere to. As laid out by the ACS (American Chemical Society), green chemistry principles lay out
twelve goals such as prevention of waste, the use of safer solvents, and design for degradation that are all ideas that should be incorporated into a laboratory set- ting,” said Amanda Dumi, President of the Chemistry Club.
“The Chemistry Club feels as though the ideas of green principles can be extended out of the laboratory and translated into social action. As amazing as Seton Hill is, the school is located in a county that does not recycle even though large amounts of recyclables are consumed within the school. As a club, we wanted to initiate the movement on campus and it is taking of better than could be expected,” Dumi said.
The club is currently starting a new initiative by placing recycling bins in the Maura Solarium and Lynch Hall. Each week a member of the club empties the bins. Facebook is also utilized as a forum to notify collection days for anyone who saves recyclables in their own dorm rooms.
Dumi reported that so far the response for the recy- cling bins has “been great.” To further their impact, the Chemistry Club would like to expand their recycling bins to more places on campus, but also increase social action.
“We hope to begin hosting documentaries, such as “An Inconvenient Truth”, to help educate students on environmental issues. Another event idea (still in development) would be a fundraising sale of reusable coffee travel mugs, which would also include the calculations of financial benefit and environmental benefits of using the mugs,” said Dumi. “Another eco-friendly practice by the club is to ensure that when demonstrations are performed at our events that the materials
are recyclable or environmentally friendly and that our audience also can relate our demonstrations to green chemistry principles.”
In addition to recycling, the Chemistry Club is also taking the initiative to reuse and repurpose plastic bottles.
“We are sending the bottles that we collect to Carn- egie Mellon to the Engineering Club to be made into strips of plastic that can be used as thatched roofing. The roofing will be sent to places in need of shelters. Because plastic is not biodegradable, it will last a very long time,” said Minnu Suresh, Treasurer of the Chem- istry Club.
Both Dumi and Suresh hope that more members of the Chemistry Club and other clubs on campus will join the movement to recycle. The urge to recycle that is carried out at SHU also carries into the surrounding City of Greensburg. According to Barb Ciampini, planning director of the City of Greensburg, a curbside pickup has been in place since Sept. 26, 1990 under Act 101 or “Pennsylvania’s Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling and Waste Reduction Act.”
Under this act, municipalities must collect at least three items including, newsprint, corrugated paper, clear and colored glass, plastic, steel and bimetallic cans, high-grade office paper and aluminum.
The City of Greensburg offers its garbage and recy- cling pickup services through Waste Management of PA, Inc. In addition, the city also holds collections of hazardous materials and electronics throughout the year. Check out the website at http://www.greensburg- pa.org/content/view/15/220/ for a full list of services offered by the City of Greensburg.
Darren’s recommendations to save the Earth:
•Printing on both sides of the page
•Only washing and drying full loads of clothing •Sharing rides with friends
•Shutting off the lights when leaving a room
•Unplugging electronic devices when not in use