By Cait Kemp
Up to 40% of all food ends up in landfills, according to FoodRescue.net. Energy, water and land are all necessary in its growth and culmination, and all of that goes to waste along with the food itself. It is a never-ending cycle that seems impossible to break, all due to large-scale industrialized agriculture required to provide food for the almost 8 billion people around the world.
It might seem redundant to take initiative when one person’s efforts appear miniscule in comparison to the massive issue, but it is important to do a part to source food ethically and sustainably.
All humans leave ecological footprints, dependent on decisions people make in their everyday lives. Is food purchased locally sourced, fresh, and unpackaged? Are houses being powered with efficient appliances? How much exhaust is entering into the atmosphere by driving a car every day? One may think their ecological footprint isn’t bad, but take on the challenge and look at an ecological footprint calculator online to see just how conscious these choices are.
In the meantime, doing little things to make improvements within a community is a great way to get involved in the betterment of the environment.
Start to become more aware of how much food is taken at Cheney Dining Hall, and try to avoid having a lot of waste at the end of a meal. Make an effort to carpool, exert less energy and fumes into the air, and don’t run the shower water for an excessive amount of time.
Even Cheney recently implemented a reusable to-go container system that allows for students to get food to take back to their dorms without having single-use takeout containers. They use reusable plastic containers that are returned after use, washed, and given back out for another student to use.
“Overall it is very easy and these to-go containers are reusable, reducing waste,” said junior Rachel Perry, a social student influencer for Harvest Table.
Cheney makes it a very easy process for students and the College to maintain a sustainable and environmentally friendly dining experience.
A factor that people can consider is their diet. A common misconception is that plant-based diets do not provide enough nutritional value as a meat diet might. However, many plant-based substitutes can supplement the protein, carbohydrates and other nutrients that meat does.
Along with that, plant-based products can often be sourced much more efficiently than meat products. The meat industry takes a lot of energy consumption to function. Not only do farms need to grow food for humans, they also need to grow food for the livestock, maintain them with energy sources and add a large portion of water.
This is why the industrial agriculture business is so detrimental to the environment.
Efforts are being made in Springfield, at both the College and in the community, to work toward making these significant impacts on the world.
“Our goal is to get a community garden going, and I have been working with (Director of the Center for Service and Leadership) Charlene Elvers and another person from the community,” said Professor of Environmental Biology Justin Compton. “The three of us have been working to develop a community garden. We’re trying to figure out physically where it’s going to go. What the purpose is, in terms of is it going to be used for educational purposes as well as community engagement, actually growing some vegetables that the community members can have access to.”
Compton emphasized the importance of knowing where food comes from. Purchasing food from local farm stands or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs can give people more knowledge about how their food is grown while supporting smaller farms and gardens as well.
“I think of the idea of food, understanding where it comes from because we can often be disconnected from our food. We don’t really know where it’s coming from, how it’s prepared, that sort of thing,” Compton said.
It can be difficult to imagine changing many daily factors in life to make the effort to become more ecologically mindful, but all it takes is time. Time is a big factor that turns people away from a variety of challenges. However, it shouldn’t stop us from taking little steps in bettering the world we live in.
The biggest takeaway: attempt to minimize waste. The climate, environment and world we live in becomes extremely affected by all the waste that we create as humans, whether it is food, energy, or water. Although one person cannot make an entire world’s worth of difference, a small contribution is still a step in the right direction.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College