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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “No funds, less ‘green'”

    In the midst of a nationwide surge to become more eco-friendly, university campuses are composting, purchasing cage-free eggs, using biodegradable silverware and buying local produce.

    How many of these food-related practices does the UA engage in? None.

    And it’s due to a lack of funding.

    The university’s

    When something like recycling comes up, that’s great, but what do you want to give up? Are student clubs and organizations willing to lose some funding, or is the campus willing to allow us to raise prices?

    -David Galbraith,
    director, food services

    dining services earn $18 to 20 million a year, according to the National Association of College and University Food Services 2007 Directory.

    The number seems impressive until compared to those at other universities with 30,000-plus students.

    University of California, Berkeley and Brigham Young University make $42 million a year and $48 million, respectively, according to the directory.

    “”It’s always about funding,”” said David Galbraith, director of food services. “”Whatever we make, the university takes, and what’s left at the end is zero.””

    Currently, Student Union Dining Services is paying the Tucson Tallow Company to pick up leftover cooking oil from the Student Union Memorial Center.

    The company comes about once every 10 days and charges $150 per pick-up, or about $450 a month, Galbraith said.

    While the oil needs to be properly disposed of, the amount of money spent in this area means that other recycling efforts are cut off.

    “”When something like recycling comes up, that’s great, but what do you want to give up?”” Galbraith said. “”Are student clubs and organizations willing to lose some funding, or is the campus willing to allow us to raise prices? Most people believe dining services already over charges them for everything.””

    UA dining services break even every year, Galbraith said, because for each item sold, every cent goes to pay employees, vendors, overhead and student clubs and organizations.

    This financial conundrum is why the organization is unable to do more in the name of sustainability. Galbraith said the university’s two student unions would have to pay someone to haul away compost-compatible material, adding that biodegradable silverware costs three times as much as traditional plasticware.

    To make matters worse, he said, if UA recycling bins contain any garbage, the entire lot goes into the landfill.

    A simple solution to help make the UA more “”green,”” would be volunteer involvement by students or the local community members, who could help haul away compost, sort recyclables or utilize leftover cooking oil.

    But during the 11 years he’s worked for the UA, Galbraith said no one has taken on such a project, although at least 20 groups have shown interest.

    “”Usually, there’s one initial interview and that’s the last I see of them because (waste removal) is a huge job,”” Galbraith said.

    Kathi Borgmann, president of the Natural Resources Student Association, agreed with Galbraith’s sentiments.

    “”I don’t know if students would be willing (to haul off recyclables),”” said Borgmann, a natural resources doctoral student. “”I know as a graduate student, we have limited time.””

    The Union does offer Fair Trade coffee, buys local dairy and provides a few organic items, Galbraith said, adding that these measures are possible because there are no additional costs associated with the eco-friendly options.

    “”We respond to what customers want and what they’re willing to pay for,”” he said.

    Galbraith said he is willing to offer more environment-friendly options if customers or student clubs were willing to bear the costs.

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