ALBANY - Key members of the SUNY Student Assembly met last week and have started to push the idea of removing trays from the SUNY campus dining facilities to support environmentally conscious action. Elected by their peers to represent the 467,000 SUNY students across the state, the Student Assembly's Environmental Affairs Committee discussed the best practices and standards for SUNY campuses statewide. This announcement comes as part of a larger campaign to push for a more environmentally conscious SUNY.
A conscious decision was suggested by the SUNY Student Assembly Environmental Affairs committee to have all SUNY institutional dinning facilities go tray-less. The committee believes that this action will aid in furthering the environmentally friendly efforts to improve: student health, water and food conservation, and institutional money savings.
As the director of environmental affairs for SUNY Student Assembly, Gwendolyn Nieves argues that, "The environment has been long neglected and it is time for SUNY institutions to take a more "green" stance on water conservation, student health, and food waste. It is important to educate our student body on the environmental effects of our actions and to plan the appropriate steps necessary to ensure our environmental efforts make a huge impact. This is a tremendous step toward SUNY's efforts on becoming more green."
Nieves went on to discuss a study conducted at the State University at Fredonia and cited from their waste assessment that: "On average a student will throw out half a pound of food per meal throughout the year. This will collectively turn into 209,000 pounds of food annually (post-consumer), hence costing a SUNY college roughly $750,000 in waste." The study further indicates that on days when trays were not utilized by students the food waste was reduced by 40 percent.
Nieves stated: "This is a practice that has been implemented on numerous SUNY campuses and proven effective, we believe this action will benefit SUNY as a whole and most importantly the environment."
Kevin Rea, president of the Student Assembly and a member of the SUNY board of trustees announced the tray removal as a part of a broader environmental initiative undertaken by the SUNY Student Assembly. "I am proud to be able to announce our support as a part of a larger environmental movement across the country." Rea said "We have been pursuing this for a long time now and we think this is a great time to address real solutions to helping reduce our impact on the environment."
He went on to say: "This will be a great opportunity to become more environmentally conscious in a way that benefits both SUNY and our planet."