JMU enters zero-waste competition for the 18th consecutive year

Environmental Stewardship

SUMMARY: For the 18th consecutive year, JMU is competing in Campus Race to Zero Waste (formerly RecycleMania), an eight-week competition among college campuses across the U.S. and Canada to advance campus waste reduction and recycling efforts.

From Jan. 28 to March 23, JMU is competing for the 18th consecutive year in Campus Race to Zero Waste (formerly RecycleMania). This eight-week competition is a tool to generate attention and support for recycling and waste reduction.

Each week during the competition, several hundred participating schools report waste-related data, such as the amount of recycling, trash, and compost produced. Campuses are then ranked based on their performance in four main categories. JMU will be focusing on the Food Organics category, which recognizes campuses that are successfully implementing food waste minimization activities that address overage (i.e., portion control techniques) and manage food waste recovered (i.e., composting food and recycling used cooking grease). In 2023, JMU placed 26th out of 82 competing institutions in the Food Organics category.

How can you participate? weighthewastesmall.jpg

  • Take only what you will eat. Especially when you’re at D-Hall, E-Hall, and buffet-style dining places, start with one plate, and go back for more if you’re still hungry.

  • Participate in “Weigh the Waste” in D-Hall February 26th to March 1, 2024 from 11:30 am to 2 pm. Find out how much food is wasted by measuring your food waste at a special Dining Services station set up near the dish return. (see photo)

  • Use reusable takeout containers provided for free by Dining Services. Students and employees can ask for a reusable container at Market 64, Bistro 1908, Memorial, and Festival. Find out more about this “Dukes Reuse” program.

  • Learn more about the recent updates to recycling guidelines on campus.

According to the US EPA:

  • Globally, the United Nations estimates that approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted.

  • In 2018 in the U.S., more food reached landfills and combustion facilities than any other single material in our everyday trash.

  • Curbing wasted food has many environment, social, and economic benefits including reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, helping businesses and consumers save money, and providing access to food for those who do not have enough to eat. 

Participation in Campus Race to Zero Waste is coordinated through a collaborative effort between Dining Services, the Institute for Stewardship of the Natural World, and Facilities Management Recycling/Waste Management. According to Amanda Bodle in the ISNW, “Advancing sustainability on our campus requires participation and effort from the entire JMU community.”

Follow JMU Dining Services on Instagram for details on efforts to reduce food waste.

Participation in Campus Race to Zero Waste counts toward JMU’s campus sustainability assessment which uses STARS (the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System). STARS is a self-reporting tool to help universities and colleges measure their sustainability performance every three years. JMU dropped to a STARS silver-level rating during the remote operations of the pandemic, which resulted in many in-person efforts being on hold, but is working toward reclaiming gold status.

Top photo: As part of their 2023-2024 capstone project, “Improving JMU Students’ Recycling Behavior on Campus”, Stephen Afriyie and Braedon Miller from the Integrated Science and Technology Program, hang a sign in King Hall that provides directions to others regarding recycling correctly.  

Right photo: Dr. Tim Miller, JMU Vice President of Student Affairs, weighed his waste at the kick-off the 2024 Campus Race to Zero Waste Competition.

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by Cas Dumas, ISNW Graduate Assistant and WRTC Graduate Student

Published: Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Last Updated: Monday, April 22, 2024

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