For the last four years, the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and NDSU Dining have put on a program twice a semester called Waste Busters. The program takes place in the Residence Dining Center and tracks food waste. The first time tracking is done during the academic year, it is done blindly; volunteers are in the dish room scraping plates. The food and liquid waste is weighed throughout the day. The remainder of the year tracking is done in live time; volunteers are stationed in front of the dish return and can be seen by students as they put their dishes away.
The program was started in the fall of 2014 by Shiloh Susag who was the 2014-2015 RHA President and is the current Sevrinson Hall Director. The program began to help students be aware of how much they were wasting and educate them on ways they can be more sustainable. Additionally, they did a “pledge” where students signed a Bison poster pledging to reduce their waste by either taking less, sampling food before taking it, etc.
The first round of Waste Busters this academic year was on Oct. 10 and 11. On Oct. 10, students wasted 326.17 pounds of food and 205.18 pounds of liquid. The total number of students that ate at the dining center that day was 2,621. On Oct. 11, 414.31 pounds of food and 184.38 pounds of liquid were wasted. The total number of students that ate at the dining center over the course of the day was 3,101. Over the course of the two days, a total of 1,103.05 pounds of food was wasted. We now have a base number to measure against this year.
RHA plans to incorporate a number of ways to help the students on campus learn about and help reduce the amount of food and liquid that is accumulated each day. There will be information in the napkin holders in the Dining Center and posters within the residence halls to promote awareness of the food waste. A Snapchat filter will also available for students in the Residence Dining Center Nov. 13-15 for those willing to take the pledge to reducing waste. The goal of this program is to promote, educate and bring awareness to NDSU students about sustainability. Tracking will take place again Nov. 14 and 15. Final numbers from the live tracking will be shared after Nov. 16.