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Buying local, organic, fair trade, and renewable products are some of the steps taken to contribute to a more sustainable campus

Lafayette College Dining Services is adjusting its practices to lessen its impact on the environment and help sustain the local economy. This includes the use of biodegradable products, organic, locally-grown food from renewable sources, and more efficient waste management.

Students can read about how they can personally reduce their environmental impact and get involved with Lafayette’s green initiatives on the College’s What Can I Do? web site.
“[Green dining habits like these] help us to improve the quality of life of our customers and our employees,” explains Joe Binotto, director of dining services. “Simply put, the consideration of the far reaching impacts of what we need to live – food – how to grow it, deliver it, prepare it, serve it, and what we do with what is left over – needs to be on everyone’s minds as we continue to meet the needs of people. These considerations are part of everything we do as Lafayette Dining Services and Sodexo.”

Green friendly dining products available in all dining locations on campus include clear, biodegradable cold beverage cups and take-away containers made from corn starch; plates, cups, and other types of containers made from wheat starch; and napkins generated from recycled paper. Dining Services has also begun using biodegradable hot beverage cups and is currently exploring sources for biodegradable utensils as well. Reusable hot beverage mugs and Nalgene bottles are available for purchase on campus and discounts are offered for using such renewable beverage containers.

Also available in all dining locations is organic and fair-trade coffee, coffee bought at a set minimum price from coffee farmers, ensuring fair wages for coffee growers and profits that flow back into their communities.

Dining Services currently recycles plastic, glass, cans, and cardboard as well as tin and aluminum in each kitchen. The department also uses biodegradable trash bags and environmentally friendly cleaning products that contain minimal toxins and pollutants in all dining facilities, including laundry. Documents and advertising materials for Dining Services are printed on recycled paper using ink made from soy. Advertisements are also transferred via email, campus newspaper, CDs, and posters to reduce paper consumption.

Along with providing a wide variety of organic and natural choices from brands such as Odwalla, Cliff Bars, United Natural Foods, and Nature’s Own, Dining Services buys from various local vendors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and utilizes local, in season, produce throughout the year.

Future ambitions to promote sustainability in Dining Services are “green” renovations to Farinon College Center, which include the installation of LEED carpet, 25 percent of which is made from recycled fibers. It also hopes to utilize all fresh produce rather than frozen to minimize packaging, distribute water bottles to incoming students upon arrival, install water fill-up stations in various locations across campus, and employ D-Text text messaging on cell phones to notify students about promotions and specials.

“The commitment to locally grown food not only fortifies the local economy by spending food dollars in our area, but this has a tremendous impact on the carbon footprint the food we use places,” says Binotto. “The reduction of energy use from reduced travel distances and times also impacts the environment. Our efforts to reduce waste through the minimalization of packaging and that the packaging we use is biodegradable or compostable keeps the effects on our landfills down. These efforts help ensure that we will be able to feed ourselves in the future.”

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