Green Team

Dedee deLongpre Johnston, Director of Sustainability at WFU, has invited each operating unit on campus to establish a Green Team Captain to join her campus-wide council. Peter and I serve as co-captains from ZSR since Peter’s schedule prevents him from attending most of the events. The Green Team Captains meet quarterly with Dedee and her staff; the first meetings were designed to educate us about her office’s mission, to teach us which items recycle here on campus, and prepare us to be ‘green’ liaisons between her office and our respective areas. At our most recently held meeting, we received a report from Aramark about its sustainability initiatives, which I admit, surprised me.

In the Fresh Food Co., Aramark has moved to 100% mandatory reusable containers; no more Styrofoam. In its ‘back of the hall’ operations, the company is now recycling cardboard, glass, paper, etc. and it recycles 100% of the fryer oil; after it’s filtered, it’s sold to a company that makes bio-fuel. Trays were eliminated last year; by avoiding washing the trays, it saves 900 gallons of water each day. Aramark has switched its condiments from individual to bulk containers, saving 20 thousand plastic bottles per year. It has switched to green cleaning supplies, decreasing the amount of chemicals it uses by 60%.

In its catering operations, it has switched to compostable glasses, cups, etc. It has increased the amount of local food it uses and for some dishes, it now labels the name of the farm from which the food came. Catering now offers a bulk water option – it can provide a large drink dispenser of water and thereby eliminate plastic bottle waste. Lastly, Aramark has changed its buying practices for its office supplies, using supplies which contain recycled content or are recyclable.

Its near-term initiative is to improve its ability to track which and how much of the raw food it buys from wholesalers is locally-sourced and to increase the amount of locally-produced food it purchases. For example, it has initiated a relationship with Pilot Mountain Pride, a farm consortium, to provide produce to campus. Aramark’s initial goal is to source 10% of its food from local sources; admittedly this is modest, but it’s a start.