Rebekah Davis

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — To kick off campus sustainability month, Winthrop University’s Office of Sustainability is hosting an event called Weigh the Waste, in order to draw attention to the issue of food waste.

It’s estimated that 30 to 40 percent of the food supply is wasted, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which means billions of pounds of food ultimately ends up in landfills.

Chris Johnson, Winthrop sustainability coordinator, said last semester the school collected over 300 pounds of food during the Weigh the Waste event.

“It sounds like a lot, but at the same time it’s just bringing attention to it, that is the most critical part of the program,” said Johnson.

He plans to present the results of the food waste audit this year at the annual Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference in Spokane, Washington.

Johnson said students can limit their food waste by asking for samples of dishes they are not sure if they will like.

“Thompson is a buffet style, so there is no reason that you have to take everything in one or two plates all at once. Just get what you think you can eat and if you can eat more, go back and get more,” said Johnson.

Last year Winthrop was recognized as a “Green College” by the Princeton Review for its efforts to be environmentally friendly.

Johnson said the university achieved this by promoting programs like Weigh the Waste and increasing recycling efforts.

“We are one of the few universities that has a sustainability minor and really starts to get students to think differently and holistically about sustainability,” said Johnson.

He said the campus also is fairly energy efficient, because the sustainability office has changed the lighting in most buildings to LED and the outdoor lighting has been changed to incandescent, induction or LED, which has reduced the amount of energy used on campus.