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2011 Spring Issue 8 (May 27, 2011)

L.D.C. to begin transition to everyday trayless

May 27, 2011
By Michelle Hesterberg and Alex Lai

Implementing Trayless Tuesdays this year has helped the L.D.C. to prevent over a thousand pounds of food waste throughout the year.  In order to further decrease food waste, L.D.C. will be trayless every day starting in fall 2011.  Don’t worry though – trays will always continue to be readily available for anybody who asks for one.  If you want a tray next year, all that you will have to do is request one at the checker station as you walk into the L.D.C.  Burton will not be going trayless because the conveyer belts that go to Burton’s dish room require the use of trays.

However, we encourage you to try eating without a tray.  We know it sounds less convenient, but according to a trayless survey done winter term, the most popular reason for voluntarily going trayless is because eating without a tray is easier.  Other respondents said that going trayless helps them eat a more appropriate amount of food, creates less waste, and is more sustainable.  According to measurements done by Bon Appetit during fall term, the L.D.C. has been reducing food waste by 20 percent on Trayless Tuesdays this year (almost 80 pounds per day).  Additionally, any money that Bon Appetit saves by having to purchase less food goes back into the dining program at Carleton.  So, decreasing food waste at Carleton benefits students as well as the environment.

The decision to go trayless every day in the L.D.C. next year is based on a survey of people eating in Carleton’s dining halls during winter term that was created by the Sustainability Assistants in collaboration with Carleton’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.

Detailed information about the methodology and results of the trayless survey is available on Carleton’s Sustainability blog.  Over half of survey respondents supported Trayless Tuesdays while less than 10 percent did not support Trayless Tuesdays (the rest had no preference or were okay with Trayless Tuesdays).  Additionally, over 70 percent of survey respondents were supportive of going trayless every day, had no preference about it, or were not supportive but “okay with going trayless everyday as a means of decreasing food waste.”

Furthermore, the survey results suggest that support for trayless increases with younger classes. Respondents from the class of 2014 were the most supportive of both continuing Trayless Tuesdays and going trayless everyday.  Support decreased with the classes of 2013 and 2012, and 2011 respondents were the least supportive.  These results suggest that using trays is a habit that people develop over time.

Based on these survey results and the food waste reduction measured during Trayless Tuesdays, the CSA Senate passed a resolution at the end of winter term in support of going trayless every day in L.D.C. in fall 2011.  Hundreds of other colleges and universities across the country have already implemented trayless dining, including many schools that are comparable to Carleton such as Middlebury College, Oberlin College, and Tufts University.  At Carleton, 90 percent of survey respondents said that Carleton’s environmental consciousness is somewhat or very important.  Trayless dining is a small change that we can make as individuals and a community in accordance with our shared environmental consciousness.

If you would like more information about anything discussed in this article or if you have any general questions or concerns about going trayless, please contact the Sustainability Assistants at sustainability@carleton.edu.

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