Student Activists: Say No to Trays

Earth Emerson, a student-run environmental action organization, is channeling its efforts into a grassroots marketing campaign to join the ranks of green-friendly colleges and go “trayless” in the school’s cafeteria. Student activists are opting to ditch cafeteria trays in order to lower water and energy use as well as to prevent wasted food.

Students prepare plates of food.

A 25-university study by Aramark Higher Education Food Services found that students waste 25 to 30 percent less food when trays aren’t available, and cafeterias save a third to a half-gallon of water for each tray they don’t have to wash. And with obesity weighing down Americans and freshman laboring to avoid that fifteen, advocates say getting rid of the trays would keep people from piling up the extra food that leads to overeating and food waste.

Jillian Tedeschi, co-President of Earth Emerson, said the group aims to implement the plan in 2012 by rousing support from the students. Tedeschi said the first step is to “Let people know what’s going on – why trays are bad – and have them sign a petition saying trays should only be given to people who absolutely need them.” They plan to present this petition to the administration, which has asked for proof of student support of the campaign.

“Some students may be hesitant at first because it’s a comfort,” Tedeschi said, “but it’s definitely something we can obtain.”

Earth Emerson is a student-run environmental action organization that works to tackle green issues at Emerson College and in the community. “Think Globally, Act Locally,” is their tagline and the organization describes itself as “committed to thinking globally about the environment and acting locally to effect change”.

For well over a decade, Earth Emerson has spearheaded educating and informing the school’s community to create an environmentally conscious student body. Among other things, the group regularly hosts movie screenings to raise awareness about specific environmental issues, covering everything from water use to subsidized corn. They also gather volunteers to clean up the Boston Common and work frequently with local eco-friendly groups and restaurants.

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