With Reunion drawing in over 2,000 alumni, Colgate University decided to green the event. Preparation for reunion has taken place for a while, and thanks to the Alumni Relations Office, biodegradable utensils and cups were provided for all meals served on Friday June 3rd. We are proud to say this prevented sending plastic waste, that would have otherwise been used, to the landfill where it would have sat for over 500 years! No doubt these materials cost slightly more, but the price was definitely worth it. These biodegradable materials and the food will break down in about half a year (1). In addition, the catering team collected all recyclable materials.
Colgate Reunion’s normal food service providers have supplied biodegradable plates, napkins, and utensils for a few years now, and fortunately, this year, the beverage providers were also able to bring biodegradable cups, completing our quest for the biodegradable reunion event. The only trash generated during the Friday meals were ice cream wrappers from the infamous Byrne Dairy Chipwiches and hand-wipes used during the evening BBQ.
To coordinate the effort for a near Zero Landfill Reunion and to educate alums of our efforts, the Sustainability Office had dedicated student volunteers (pictured below) stationed at all bin areas during Friday’s meal times. These volunteers helped alums with what items were recyclable and what items were biodegradable (On your own, you can differentiate between these two by looking for either a leaf symbol or a normal recycling symbol). You can create your own compost pile of food scraps by following the instructions on http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/how-compost. On campus, the Colgate Community Garden also runs a compost program that community members can take part in.
We learned from this event and hope to make next year’s reunion even greener! We’d like to thank our volunteer team of students for their time, energy, and passion for this green event.