CNS College Day Cookout Composts 100 Percent of Waste

Handling waste at the CNS cookout

Organizers of the College of Natural Sciences’ (CNS) recent College Day Cookout report that 100 percent of the waste generated by the 5,000 attendees was composted, with usable leftover food donated to the needy.

Led by Jane Markarian, special projects and outreach manager in the CNS advising center, organizers of the annual event continued to expand their green efforts and work toward making the cookout a zero-waste event, with careful attention to decisions about everything from decorations to the handling of leftover food.

The event was not only a celebration of the start of the academic year, but also an opportunity to showcase the many sustainable, environmentally friendly measures CNS has taken to make it a model for holding a green event. This year, those efforts included:

  • Locally sourced food and humanely raised meat, with minimal packaging
  • Reminders from servers to come back for seconds, rather than take more food than one could finish
  • 100 percent compostable utensils, cups and paper goods
  • Portable water station, where picnickers could refill water bottles, eliminating the waste of disposables
  • Green decorations, including hay bales, pumpkins, and corn stalks from the Hadley farm and the student farm, and mums from the Physical Plant, all of which were repurposed or recycled after the event
  • Waste stations staffed by student Eco-Reps, who helped attendees sort out recycling and compostable items
  • New this year: Activities to raise awareness of Hunger Action Month, and student volunteers from the Food Recovery Network, who put theory into practice by packing up and delivering eight pans of uneaten burgers and sandwiches to the Not Bread Alone food pantry

CNS Dean Tricia Serio said, “I was delighted to see CNS gather as a community and have a great time, while also serving as an example of sustainability, in both academics and in daily practice. I look forward to our finding even more ways to expand on these impressive sustainability achievements next year.”