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Environmental orgs opine on food waste and carbon use

In an ever-growing world that pushes reusability, the environmental organizations at UMBC hope to promote sustainability of our food and resources to move towards a greener future.

To that end, the Food Recovery Network, the Environmental Task Force, Just Food and the Garden organized a “Family Style Food Waste Dinner,” with the hopes of educating UMBC students on the issue of food waste and making the most of the food available to students.

Andy Clark, president of the Garden and a freshman social welfare major and legal policy minor, discussed the importance of educating sustainability. “Students should learn how to utilize their food in the best way, only get what you need,” said Clark. This education included learning how to buy only as much food as one can eat. He also explained that some products can be consumed after the ‘use-by’ date on the container.

This event promoted the importance of sustainability on campus to students, but it was also good for unity between various green initiatives. The “EcoOrgs,” as member of the Garden and senior English major Thomas Eliason likes to call them, spent the night socializing and solidifying their relationships.

While food sustainability is one area these groups share a common interest in, they also have strong opinions when it comes to the broader issue of environmental sustainability at UMBC. “There are a lot of things on campus the EcoOrgs don’t agree with, one being the giant athletic center UMBC is building,” said Eliason.

Some members of the EcoOrgs feel that investing a huge sum of money into this new building conveys to students that UMBC is ignoring the many environmental issues on campus that should be mended, as well as the 50-year plan, in which the UMBC promised to reduce campus emissions 70 percent by 2075.

Although the campus has begun to put measures in place to implement this plan, it has done so in what these organizations see as an unproductive way,  buying carbon offsets which still pollute the air, and not just directly at UMBC.

Shane Wellnitz, president of UMBC’s Environmental Task Force and a junior environmental science major, discussed his distaste for these policies. “UMBC is financing unsustainable energy sources and calling it a carbon reduction,” he said.

Wellnitz stated that the campus could use the money invested in the athletic center to produce energy in an environmentally friendly manner, such as using windmills and hydroelectric sources to produce energy. “If we had windmills, we would actually be producing sustainable energy,” said Wellnitz.

Other campuses such as University of Maryland, College Park, have invested in producing their own reusable energy. According to Wellnitz, even sourcing two percent of the campus’s electricity from solar energy would be “a big statement to make, even for the state of Maryland.”

While the campus does have open meetings about environmental plans, as Wellnitz said, “they don’t publicize them to students effectively.”

“I think that [we] could do more to spread awareness to students to come out to them,” continued Wellnitz. While UMBC claims to promote environmental sustainability, to many, these claims seem to not be backed up.

What seemed to be a night of good food and fun proved more than that. The EcoOrgs, through this event, were able to come together and spread awareness about sustainability to the students who attended the event. They hope to gain more traction and spread their message to more students and faculty on campus.