The Michigan Daily’s article, (Dining halls going trayless, 10/11/2011), explains that the University is planning on going trayless. This idea materialized in the winter of 2009 with a pilot project by a group of students in the ENV 391 class who ran a pilot program in the Mary Markley dining hall. This preliminary study for the University proved to be very effective, since there was noticeably a large drop in food waste during the project.
The following year, another group of students from the ENV 391 course conducted a study in the East Quad dining hall that showed some very significant results. This data — 38 percent waste reduction, significant decrease in detergent, water use and waste and a recognition of healthier eating choices — was then presented to the dining services and used to inspire the current commitment to going trayless.
However, as with much of University President Mary Sue Coleman’s sustainability address(, the trayless element is a little weak. Coleman announced that “we expect all dining halls we renovate or build to go trayless.” The University is not declaring that all dining halls will be trayless, only new and renovated dining facilities are expected to be trayless. So, in 25 or so years after all the renovations and construction, there is a possibility that a few dining halls will be trayless.
Students will always have the option of going trayless, but in order to make a difference, there must be an institutional shift and a commitment — not a possibility — of being sustainable. The University knows the benefits of going trayless — save money, prevent waste, create a healthier student body — but is still falling behind. We have the knowledge, let’s use it. Let’s make the University more sustainable. Let’s commit to reducing our footprint, eating more consciously and proving to ourselves and our peers that we are the Leaders and Best.