We are Waste Watchers, a student run activist group based out of Bridgewater College that is focused on raising awareness about food waste and the benefits of composting. Our work is based around a simple question: what happens to your food once you throw it away? In landfills, food waste breaks down under oxygen-poor conditions and releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. In contrast, composting allows for food to decompose under oxygen-rich conditions, preventing the release of harmful greenhouse gases. With that said, food waste is the single largest component in most landfills. Our goals are to inform students about the harms of food waste, inspire them to reduce the amount of food they throw away, and cause them to gain interest in furthering composting efforts at Bridgewater College.
During the Pitch, we asked for money to assess how much trash Parkhurst Dining was collecting on campus, to spark interest with students that increased composting action was needed on campus, and then to petition the school for further funding towards the college’s current composting program. The judges at The Pitch suggested that we place a stronger emphasis on informing the student body about the problem of food waste and generate a stronger drive within the student body to reduce the amount of food they take and throw-away in the dining hall. As a result, our aim at the moment is to target the student body. Currently, we are networking with professors and student organizations in order to plan times where we can speak to students. Several professors have expressed interest in letting us run a lesson on food waste during their class and several clubs are interested in partnering with us to create events where we can speak. We are working on an interactive lesson plan at the moment, and one of our biggest issues is practicing how we are going to do it. You can rehearse a speech, but practicing for a 50 minute lesson is more difficult. Additionally, we are finding it challenging to gather teachers to collaborate with. The Center for Sustainability has helped us to find a few professors who are happy to work with us, but we are not sure how to broaden our scope beyond that.
At the same time, we are working on a poster campaign to be put up in the cafeteria. We plan to put signs around the KCC that remind students of the problems associated with food waste and to not take more than they intend on eating. We also plan to try to survey students as they put food onto the conveyor belt in an effort to make students more aware of how much food they are actually throwing away. Our biggest issue on this front is determining how to make the biggest impact possible with limited manpower. We are trying to think of a display to put by the conveyor belt to make students aware of how much food they are throwing away without us having to constantly be there.
We have done a lot this past semester, but there is still more to do. We cannot wait to get back to work and to Watch our Waste!