On Thursday, I attended the last Earth Issues of this academic year to learn about what my fellow ES majors have been doing this past semester. There were so many presentations (10!) that I’m only going to briefly discuss the presentations that relate to discussions we had in class.
Scott – Food Consumption and Purchasing at Dickinson
For anyone that read Scott’s piece in the Dickinsonian a couple of weeks ago, you probably remember the exhorbitant amount of food (specifically meat!) we consume on campus. The article stemmed from Scott’s internship here on campus. The purposes of Scott’s internship was to calculate the percentage of food served at Dickinson that is local – food that it grown, produced, etc. within 250 miles. After going through 35,821 (no that isn’t a typo) invoices, he discovered some interesting facts. For example, only 1% of the dining hall budget goes towards purchasing french fries, while 20% goes towards fruits/veggies, and 23% towards meat. Scott focused on the fact that only 0.35% of the Dining Services budget goes towards purchasing food from the Dickinson College Farm. He emphasized that while it’s great that we have a college farm, Dining Services should depend more heavily on locally grown food than on the importation of meat, non-local fruit, french fries, etc. In conclusion, he stated that he would like Dickinson to enact a sustainable food purchasing plan on campus.
Louisa – Soap Making from Glycerin Byproduct.
Since 2008, Dickinson has been making both liquid and bar soap from glycerin byproduct. But unfortunately, only liquid soap has been successful because it is typically of higher quality, easier to lather, and does not “sweat” or melt like its bar counterpart. One reason behind the difficulty to create a biodiesel soap from glycerin product is the abnormally high glycerin content – 40-80% versus 10-15% in traditional soap. Louisa tried various additives – coconut oil, vegetable shortening, olive oil or a combination of all three. After repeated tests, she found that adding coconut oil was the most successful. Louisa stated that she would like to see Dickinson use more soap that is eco-friendly and local.
Anna – Food Alliance Partnership
During this semester, Anna focused on not only growing the Food Alliance’s presence in Pennsylvania, but also establish a connection between Dickinson College and the Food Alliance. One reason the Food Alliance was chosen as an organization to work with is the Food Alliance’s committment to “support safe and fair working conditions” – an aspect somewhat unique to their organization. The organization also supports farms that hire individuals with disabilities such as the Red Wiggler Community Farm. Anna stated that Dickinson College’s Dining Services is now a Food Alliance “supporter” and would like to see more farms in PA become part of the Food Alliance network.