Laker Food Co. hosts Weigh the Waste event to promote sustainability


GVL / Bethann Long

Ashley Moubray, Staff Writer

Environmental waste has skyrocketed in recent years as the production of plastic waste has more than doubled in the past two decades. Almost half of all the food produced, processed and distributed in the United States eventually accumulates in landfills. Only a tiny fraction of that waste is successfully recycled.

Food waste generation is a globally prevalent issue. In response, college campuses across the U.S. have recently developed new and innovative methods to combat environmental waste and promote environmental sustainability.

Grand Valley State University and many others across the nation have targeted food waste through an event called Weigh the Waste

According to Chapman University, Weigh the Waste first began in order to promote “post-consumer waste reduction.” In other words, it’s a nationwide initiative promoting environmental sustainability through reducing food waste generated by students on college campuses. 

GVSU Laker Food Co. hosted its first Weigh the Waste event in September 2022. On Jan. 9, the third Weigh the Waste event was held. 

“Weigh the Waste is a two-hour event held monthly at Fresh Food Co. or The Dish on the Allendale campus where all the food and paper waste sent through the dish return is captured, analyzed and weighed before being composted,” said Laker Food Co.’s Sustainability Manager Allysa Babcock. “The goal is to analyze food waste going to the dish return and discover why so we can continuously improve operations.”

These events are held in an effort to prioritize environmental sustainability within the campus. Ultimately, these improvements hope to promote a greener campus. 

Babcock said students can contribute to environmental sustainability and food waste reduction by thinking about the impact of their actions throughout the day. She said even the smallest choices make a difference.

“Choosing to reuse and utilizing to-go on campus are just some of the ways our community can help promote sustainability,” Babcock said.

Some students appreciated GVSU’s efforts to promote sustainability. Many are proactively aware of the different ways they can contribute to maintaining a clean, healthy environment.

“I think the concept of Weigh the Waste is really cool,” said GVSU Sophomore Alleigh Michalek. “It’s nice to see that GV is doing its best to reduce waste on campus by being more environmentally friendly.” 

Using reusable water bottles and adding more recycling and composting bins outside of the dining halls are two ways that Michalek said students can act more sustainably. Aside from recycling and composting, she said it’s important to be aware of how students’ actions impact the environment. 

“Just being more mindful in general helps,” Michalek said. “I think even just being aware of where your trash ends up is a good step in the right direction.” 

Babcock said since the first Weigh the Waste back in September, there have been significant reductions in the amount of waste on plates. The hope is that there will be less food, paper and plastic waste as more of these events come to pass. 

The next Weigh the Waste is scheduled for Feb. 22 at The Dish on Allendale’s campus from 5-7 p.m. Students can find further information, updates and sustainability-centered goals posted on @GVSUFOOD on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.