By Justin Monroe
In October of 2016, a few mindful students and faculty combined their efforts to figure out a solution for reducing the amount of food wasted in Concordia’s Anderson Commons, giving life to the Taste Not Waste campaign. Taste Not Waste has implemented strategies not only into the experience of dining on campus, but to campus life as a whole. The main measurement of their progress since 2016 is the plate waste study done each semester, consisting of not only those directly involved with the Taste Not Waste campaign, but also volunteers who wish to support their cause. Finding it important to keep Concordia’s students updated with the most recent data, Co-leaders of the Taste Not Waste campaign, Dr. Joan Kopperud and Dr. Meredith Wagner have provided the latest data on Taste Not Waste’s progress.
Along with the replacement of trays with smaller, white plates as an effort to have student become more mindful of the food they are taking, Dr. Kopperud mentions additional strategies Taste Not Waste has implemented to reduce plate waste. Dr. Kopperud notes that their most recent approaches are designed to increase awareness about plate waste, with the hope that the reduced amount of waste will follow.
The strategies Taste Not Waste has implemented, Dr. Kopperud notes, include scraping dishes in Anderson Commons, tabling in the Knutson Campus Center, and speaking with various groups around campus about raising awareness, such as orientation leaders, Residence Life staff, Athletics staff, Music staff, as well as entire classes at Concordia. Dr. Kopperud also mentions, “[Taste Not Waste] also tries to raise awareness through social media,” as an effort to reach more students.
Students at Concordia, although well aware of Taste Not Waste’s message, feel as though Taste Not Waste could do a better job of spreading their message by increasing student engagement. When asked in an interview about what Taste Not Waste could do better, Samuel Dobie, a sophomore at Concordia, says Taste Not Waste should, “get more active on social media!” Dobie also hopes Taste Not Waste adapts to allow a larger number of students to take part in their campaign, as he someday hopes to be involved with Taste Not Waste. Emily Curfman, also a sophomore, agrees with Dobie, saying, “I would like to know how I, as a student, could better support sustainability campaigns like Taste Not Waste.” Both Dobie and Curfman agree that more opportunities for student engagement would be a positive change for Taste Not Waste.
Although noting things Taste Not Waste could do better, Dobie and Curfman agree that Taste Not Waste has had a positive impact at Concordia. In an interview, Curfman states, “I feel they are making a positive difference at Concordia,” adding that the campaign has made her more mindful about the amount of food she takes. Agreeing with Curfman, Dobie adds, “I feel like being aware of my food waste and practicing ‘taste not waste’ is a way for me to hold myself accountable for my consumption of food that could have gone to someone else.” Dobie feels as though Taste Not Waste has had a tremendous impact at Concordia and looks forward to its future.
In an interview with Jackie Maahs, Concordia College’s Sustainability Coordinator, Maahs spoke at length about the environmental dangers of high amounts of plate waste. Maahs says that when food is wasted, “it puts to waste the entire chain supply chain the food has gone through,” she adds, “the food is getting produced, it’s getting shipped, it’s getting made, its getting served, then it’s getting driven to a landfill, then it’s producing methane while it’s in the landfill. So when you throw away food, it is putting to waste all of the carbon emissions and all the money spent.” Maahs’ main role in the Taste Not Waste campaign is to supervise the work of their student intern and do marketing work for the campaign.
When asked about how these numbers look as progress towards Taste Not Waste’s goals, Dr. Wagner says their goal of a 50% reduction in plate waste by 2020 is, “a very ambitious goal […] but we do strongly feel that Concordia can do it.” Dr. Wagner points out that the national goal for plate waste reduction is also 50%, but to be hopefully realized by the year 2030, exemplifying Concordia’s aspiration to be ahead of its neighbors. The faculty members involved with Taste Not Waste are not only concerned with the relatively short-term success of realizing their goal by 2020, but to promote sustainable and mindful living practices for the students to carry with them after their time at Concordia.