Over 1,000 pounds of food scraps are produced by Harris and Commons dining halls every day, and environmentally conscious students have made sure the leftovers do not go to waste.
Bobcat Blend has partnered with the university to collect food waste on campus for composting purposes. Kevin Walsh, graduate coordinator of Bobcat Blend, estimated that the organization gathers 5,000 pounds of thrown-away food each week. This means members get 20,000 pounds of composting material from the dining halls each month.
Walsh said he joins other Bobcat Blend members every morning to pick up separated food scraps from the dining halls. However, the group has noticed a decline in the amount of material they have received in the past year.
Last spring, Bobcat Blend was given 15,000 pounds of food waste every week as opposed to the 5,000 pound weekly haul this year, Walsh said. The reason can be attributed to the construction and renovation that has caused Jones Dining Hall to close temporarily.
Walsh said Bobcat Blend has a fantastic relationship with Chartwells, the food service of Texas State, and will begin collecting scraps from Jones once it reopens.
“As soon as Jones opens up, we will be picking up food waste to become composted,” Walsh said.
Breanna Harlan, president of Bobcat Blend, said the organization used to collect from the LBJ Student Center, but upon renovation, officials felt there was an “aesthetic problem” with the waste bins that didn’t suit the new design of the building.
“We’re waiting for funding to get new bins to go with the interior of (the LBJSC),” Harlan said.
Harlan doesn’t believe the university’s amount of waste is a problem, since it is being used to benefit the environment through composting.
“We don’t refer to it as waste because as long as it’s reused or composted, then it comes out to be something beneficial for the community,” Harlan said.
Laura Moreno, wildlife biology senior and secretary of Bobcat Blend, is one of the few people who go to collect the food scraps each morning to take to the composting site. She said it can be labor-intensive, but the outcome of the work is worth it.
She said the group tries to have certain types of trash in specific bins, but it doesn’t always work out.
“When we go do pick-ups, sometimes we will get a few contaminates that aren’t always compostable in our bins, like plastic,” Moreno said. “The school goes through a lot of employees and students, so we understand that it can be difficult to enforce that understanding of what can be composted.”
Moreno said Bobcat Blend wants people to know materials normally considered waste can be put to use and benefit the environment.
“Not everything is garbage,” Moreno said. “We want students and employees to understand items can be used for composting so food doesn’t just go to waste.”