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Environmental Science and Policy
The dining halls at Smith College generate approximately 1/3 of the institution’s total waste stream. A large proportion of this fraction is due to the Grab n’ Go system that two dining halls, Hubbard and Chapin, currently practice during weekdays. Grab n’ Go uses large amounts of packaging and is an area where many improvements could potentially be made to increase the sustainability of Smith dining. This project sought to investigate possible measures that could be taken in the future in order to reduce the amount of waste that is produced by Grab n’ Go. The results of the interviews, observations, and survey that were part of this investigation suggest that although Dining Services is on the whole making significant efforts to reduce waste, there are still a few improvements that can be made. At the present moment the biggest sustainability challenge for Grab n’ Go is to find a cost-effective way of properly disposing of the thousand or more plastic containers that are used every weekday. These containers are compostable and have the potential to be a much more environmentally-friendly option than traditional plastics; however, this potential is not realized because they are not properly disposed of and instead end up in Northampton’s landfill where they are unable to break down. Significant challenges stand in the way of properly composting these containers at the present time. There are many additional smaller changes that can and are being made to decrease the amount of waste that is produced by Grab n’ Go. Dining Services is already very aware of the waste that it creates and is taking steps to reduce this amount. Student behavior is thus where much future improvement needs to be made.
© 2009; Julia Beaty
Beaty, Julia, "Reducing Waste at the Grab N' Go" (2009). Capstone, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
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