UC’s Crossroads keeps pushing boundaries

BERKELEY, Calif. — Green initiatives have been sweeping the nation, and as the first organic-certified college dining hall in the country, Crossroads continues to push the boundaries of sustainable eating here at the University of California.

Often completely full plates are thrown into the trash, Crossroads aims to solve that. Photo by Toni Rende

Bettye Bols, service manager of Crossroads, said, “We need to be careful… there aren’t enough resources in the world… [so] we all need to be a part of it.”

Bols said the staff recently launched “Weigh your Waste,” an event in which employees take plates that have barely been touched from the waste conveyer belts and put them on display for students and faculty to see. This event happens twice each semester and will continue into the new school year.

On Weigh Your Waste Night, and every other day of the week, the staff donates edible waste to homeless shelters, Bols said. The dining hall also has a compost system to take care of inedible waste, and students faculty separate their waste into large compost bins before putting them on a conveyer belt to be washed. “It’s just great for people to be aware,” Bols said.

Compost bins and different recycling bins can be seen across campus. Photo by Toni Rende

In addition to having a compost initiative, Bols said they have shifted over the past few years from being “totally organic” to being being completely locally sourced from local farms.

These are years-long initiatives; in the past, reusable containers and water bottles have been distributed from Crossroads in exchange for  dining points. The university did away with trays in the dining halls in recent years as well.

The dining hall is able to take on such ambitious goals because it is involved in the Green Initiative, which is part of  the university’s goal of zero waste by 2020.

Others projects include:

  • Waste Audits, in which trash is inspected weekly for excess waste
  • Biofuels, a program in which used cooking oil is recycled  
  • Refills not Landfills, allowing students to get a 25-cent discount for bringing reusable beverage containers
  • Chews to Reuse, a program in which students can pay $5 for a reusable food containers for use at dining halls across campus.

There is still a long way to go in the pursuit of healthy living but Crossroads staffers are key players. As Bols said, “We all need to do our part.”