By Kristen Holt
Students eating in the Burnhams, Davis, and Valley 1 cafeterias are testing the Western Dining Services’ new “Green Initiative:” Trayless Dining Halls.
Last year, two waste audits were performed in the Davis and Valley 1 cafeterias by Professor Harold Glasser’s Ph.D. Environmental Science 4100 class, one with trays in the cafeteria and one without. Students were asked to put their excess food, after eating, into buckets to be measured. According to the Dining Services’ “Going Green” Web site, there was a 30 percent drop in the amount of food wasted in the trayless experiment.
Schools all over the country are removing trays. Judy Gipper, director of Dining Services said that WMU would never have gone forward with the idea if the students hadn’t accepted the idea.
Gipper emphasized the importance of the students to the process. “I do not feel that dining is imposing anything on the students,” Gipper said. “The students were an equal partner from the start.”
Trayless dining halls are just one step in President John Dunn’s Sustainability campaign. According to Gipper, the dining halls are huge consumers of energy with refrigeration, water and electricity. The trayless halls are making an attempt to streamline the process.
“The center point of the ecological movement is decreasing consumption, I think this falls right in line with that,” said Gipper.
Trays take up a lot of space in the dishwashing machines, meaning that more loads have to be run. This wastes water and energy in heating the water.
According to Casey Barrons, the student assistant of the president’s university-wide sustainability committee, excess food gets washed down the drain and into the wastewater.
This water is sent to treatment plants and requires more chemicals to clean up for safe drinking.
In addition, because of increased food and fuel costs, decreasing food consumption will help the Dining services lower costs to WMU.
Students seem untroubled by the change. “I talked to the supervisors of the dining halls that have gone trayless, and they say the students are doing great,” said Gipper.
Freshman Tony Cerullo, who lives in The Burnhams said that if an upperclassman hadn’t told him that there used to be trays, he would never have known the difference.
Gipper is very excited about the direction that the dining halls are taking. She said she’s “looking forward to having other people who have ideas coming to me and saying ‘why not?’”