Reducing waste at UNH dining halls has been an ongoing effort now for years. In 1998, the UNH Compost Program was established to collect food scraps from UNH kitchens and turn them into compost, a beneficial soil amendment. All the dining halls at UNH now collect both pre- and post-consumer waste, delivering around 200,000 pounds of food waste every year to the compost facility at UNH’s Kingman Farm! This is great news, of course, since composting food waste offers a good alternative to adding it to the wastewater stream or a landfill, while at the same time produces a useful product. But it takes more than composting to effectively reduce waste. Creating less waste in the first place is an important step. Compost program interns of the past urged students in the dining halls to “Take what you want, but eat what you take,” and dining experimented with “Trayless Tuesdays”, encouraging students to go forego a tray with the hope that less food will be wasted. The idea is not to constrain how much students take to eat, but simply to consider how much one truly will eat and avoid throwing food away unnecessarily. Now, with the encouragement and help of students, dining will increase their waste reduction efforts this spring by making every Tuesday a “Trayless Tuesday”, as well as conducting other educational efforts in the dining halls. This is just one part of the broader Local Harvest Initiative at UNH that includes purchasing locally grown foods, USDA Organic and Fair Trade certified items, and other efforts that help to create a more sustainable food community at UNH. Look for more details on waste reduction in the dining halls after the spring break!Written by Elisabeth.