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GEO encourages waste awareness, one plate at a time

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Posted: Tuesday, November 4, 2008 9:00 pm

One of the University's greenest groups is doing its part to raise awareness about environmental concerns on and off campus.

"Our goal as a club is to bring awareness, as well as education, not only to the Gonzaga community, but also to the Spokane community," said Gilbert Moreno, Gonzaga Environmental Organization president.

As part of the club's ongoing effort, GEO organized a food scrape on Oct. 22 in the COG that collected 141 pounds of food.

With three meals a day seven days a week, that is more than 3,000 pounds of food, GEO vice president Maggie Zaback said.

This was the third year the club has put on this particular even. Members try to organize at least one food scrape a semester.

"Every year GEO conducts a food scrape in the COG by collecting all leftoveredibles - not chicken bones or fruit peels - into 5 gallon buckets over a two-hour period," Zaback said. "The purpose is to calculate and visually demonstrate how much food is being wasted on the COG every night - in only two hours."

Students have seen attempts to become a more environmentally friendly campus all semester. GSBA distributed reusable water bottles in the first days of the school year to cut down on throwing away water bottles. Similarly, the ZagShop sold books to students in canvas bags instead of plastic.

"Changes are happening around campus as Gonzaga is becoming aware of environmental and sustainable problems," Moreno said. "Bringing awareness to students on how wasteful they can be can hopefully ignite their mindset to make a difference and take only what they will eat."

GEO members have found that students are taking these ideas to heart, as the amount of waste each year appears to be decreasing.

"Over the past three years we have done this, the amount of waste has gone down with help from the COG," Moreno said. "They no longer provide trays so that less food is taken and have made some other changes toward sustainability as they are beginning to buy local food."

The purpose of GEO, however, is to try to get students and other organizationsto realize that more can be done.

"The COG throws away an obscene amount of food that could be put to better use," secretary Laura Street said. "For one, if people didn't waste so much food the COG wouldn't make as much. Also, any leftover food could go to charities like Campus Kitchens. We would like the COG to become a more efficient and sustainable system with less waste going out, and therefore less food having to be purchased."

This month GEO will have a dinner for the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness on Nov. 19 in the Goller classroom at 6 p.m. The club will ask for donations.

Events like these are meant to get more students involved with and interested in changing the environment.

"It is each of our own responsibility to be conscientious of our waste as well as our consumption of resources," Zaback said. "As students at a Jesuit institution, working for social justice, we are especially accountable for how our actions are affecting the rest of the world."

Club members encourage students to help Gonzaga become more environmentallyfriendly by asking for change.

"Our campus is trying to change, but if the students are not willing to, it is going to make it tough," Moreno said. "Students should become intrigued in these changes and express their voices so that more can get done."

Students interested in joining GEO or learning more can attend meetings, which are held every other Wednesday at 9 p.m. in the Environmental Studies House.

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