Filed under: Food, Recent news, Sustainable purchases | Tags: carbon footprint, FDA, greenwashing, natural, orange juice, twinkies
Read a cool article on New York Times a couple of days ago about Tropicana (owned by PepsiCo) which recently considered the question, “How much does your morning glass of orange juice contribute to global warming?” They calculated all of the aspects of producing orange juice in a carton – ranging from the growth of the oranges, to their processing, packaging, and shipping. While I was reading, I assumed that the shipping (from growth of the orange to production site to your friendly local grocery store) would be the biggest culprit of emissions. Surprisingly, it found that the orange groves themselves were the largest source. (You’ll have to read the article to find out why!)
It’s interesting that PepsiCo would choose to embark on calculations of these sort, but not surprising. The author of this article suggests that with growing consumer awareness about “green” products, there will be rising demand for ads that emphasize a low “carbon footprint.” But how to tell the difference between factual calculations, and false claims of sustainability, commonly known as “greenwashing” – which I’ve blogged about in a previous post? It’s a tough line to draw! Think about it.
How often do you see products that claim they are green, or help to improve the environment? Ever seen the word “natural” used on a food product – and did you know it means exactly nothing? It’s a claim that virtually ANY food (including Twinkies!) is allowed by the FDA to declare, since if you trace an ingredient back, eventually it came from a “natural” source. So think twice the next time you see a label that promises it is “all-natural,” and think harder about where your food comes from and how it got to you.
Filed under: Food, Waste diversion, Event Planning | Tags: Delegate Workshop, Event Planning, campus services
I’m happy to report that I think the sustainability measures we implemented at the Delegate Workshop went very well yesterday! Some things went very well, and others I think can be improved on, but overall this was a great learning experience for me as someone new to the whole business of “green event-planning.”
Not everything ran perfectly smoothly, of course. I spent hours dealing with different on-campus departments to place an order for waste diversion bins. There was some confusion with the UC Berkeley campus recycling service over when I had placed the order – over two weeks before the date of the workshop! - and how many bins of each type I’d ordered - four recycling bins and one composting bin -, and how much it was going to cost – originally free, then later almost $100, then down to $12. But everything got taken care of in the end, when a very helpful head supervisor of the campus service promised me the night before the workshop that, despite some bureaucratic interdepartmental confusion, the bins would be in place the next morning. And they showed up! After worrying that all my hours of haggling might have proven worthless, I was pleasantly surprised.
In order to make best use of the bins, my staff and I also posted up lots of signs the morning of the workshop, instructing everyone on what could be deposited into each type of bin. We made signs directing visitors to the working water fountains (see my earlier blog on this subject here), but not all the signs made it up, unfortunately. Still, a good practice session for the much bigger conference.
In addition to the bins, both the advisors’ lounge and the secretariat lounge had breakfast foods available, with many thanks to USG of Special Events, Erin. We got to use some of our new compostable utensils and materials here. We are still using up some of the leftover plates and cups and things from last year’s conference stash, though, so our conversion to sustainable silverware is not yet complete.
Using the Delegate Workshop of about 200 attendees as a “practice run” for the Conference in February, I think I have some new ideas on what will work best next semester. I’m excited to keep learning and planning. If you attended the Workshop and have any questions, comments or suggestions for me about how to improve any aspect of the sustainability of BMUN’s conference, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below!
Filed under: Food, Sustainable purchases, Waste diversion | Tags: compost, recycling, waste, WorldCentric
Here at BMUN, we hold weekly meetings to prepare for the big events we put on: the Delegate Workshop in the fall, and the Conference in the Spring. Dinner is served at most meetings, and 60 people can easily generate a lot of waste – like soda bottles, leftover food scraps, and one-time-use utensils and plates. So in order to adhere with our newly adopted goal of waste diversion, we’ve begun putting out collection bags for recyclables and compostables, next to the trash can. At the end of each of our weekly meetings, we deposit our collected compost waste and recyclables in an on-campus bin.
What exactly is composting, you might ask? Once relegated to the backyards of tree-hugging environmentalists, it’s become increasingly common in areas throughout California in the last decade. The Bay Area has been at the forefront of this trend, distributing green bins to the residents of Berkeley to collect food wastes ranging from wilting vegetables to egg shells to leftover sandwich crusts – stuff you’d normally toss in the trash but which can actually be diverted to composting facilities to be processed into rich organic fertilizer. Food-soiled paper products (like napkins and paper plates) can also be composted easily. UC Berkeley has embraced this practice, and there are now big green composting bins available outside of every dining hall on campus.
But we at BMUN also decided to take it one step further. In addition to collecting and separating our trash into food leftovers, metal and glass recyclables, and plastic trash, we opted to place an order through WorldCentric for compostable utensils and eating materials – everything from plates and bowls to cups, spoons and coffee lids. The difference about these compostable materials is that they are made out of organic materials – things like corn and potato starch, or bagasse which is derived from sugar cane. This way, we’re avoiding the use of paper plates (often made of virgin materials), styrofoam cups and plastic disposable utensils, which can take hundreds to thousands of years to biodegrade, often leaving behind harmful leached chemicals in the earth. For more information on compostable materials, check out WorldCentric’s FAQs.
Our order from WorldCentric came in this week, and we’ll be using the materials at the Delegate Workshop in just a few days. Be sure to check it out, and ask me on the day of the workshop if you have any questions! We’ll have some signs up about what can be composted. That’s all for now! See you on Saturday.