Eco-Repping food and waste at UVM

The Eco-Reps Program at UVM implemented a Dining Services Eco-Rep position in Fall 2009, and since January, junior environmental science major Rachel Meyer has held the position. Like other Eco-Reps, Meyer works toward changing student behavior through education and activities that promote a greater appreciation of the Earth.By working with University Dining Services, Meyer hopes to create a more sustainable way of eating on campus. Vermont Cynic: What does your position entail? Rachel Meyer: The main focus is to work together to create more sustainable dining areas on campus. We also try to educate the UVM community, encourage eco-friendliness and reduce waste in dining areas around campus.VC: What are some of the projects you work on as Dining Services Eco-Rep?RM: We’ve been working on signs around waste bins areas on the second floor of the Davis Center. [We’re trying to] bring in new signs that people can look at and figure out what’s going on and where to put your trash. I’m also working on marketing for the new “bring your own fork” campaign.  So far the marketing for this hasn’t been successful, and a lot of students don’t know about it.VC: Why does the Davis Center need a Dining Services Eco-Rep? RM: I wouldn’t say that just the Davis Center needs an Eco-Rep. My job isn’t just in the Davis Center, but all over campus. I’ve been working at the Marché, Harris/Millis, etc.  More than anything we want to create a relationship with University Dining Services as an Eco-Reps program. VC: What are the most challenging parts of your work?RM: Getting in contact with people.  Also, a big problem I run into is that people aren’t receptive.  Students need to be more open to change.  VC: Does Sodexho work with local foods and/or local businesses? If so, which ones? RM: Sodexho is better than we give them credit for. As a student body I think we’re prone to nitpick, but they’ve made an effort to work with people like Champlain Orchards and Cabot.VC: What are the biggest environmental problems you see with Dining Services?RM: The waste issue. It’s not just dining services, but it’s the students who eat there. There are a handful of students who are educated and act as leaders to help their community improve, but there are so many who don’t know about composting, waste reduction, etc. Everyone is involved in creating and solving the problem.VC: What is the best thing that UVM Dining Services is doing right now to be environmentally conscious? RM: They have goals, and they realize there are ways to improve.  Some of these goals are reducing waste, cutting back on takeout containers and utensils and bringing in more local foods.  VC: How do you get students to change their behaviors?RM: The biggest thing is to get students excited and passionate.  I did a clothing swap in the GreenHouse [dorm] last year and everyone was so happy to find new treasures.Learn more about the Eco-Reps Program through their website:http://www.uvm.edu/~ecoreps/