Student Driven Sustainability

In the US, 40% of all the food we produce is going to waste. One head of lettuce can take up to 25 years to decompose in a landfill. Plastic, which the majority of food is served on, is not bio degradable. 90% of the trash floating in our oceans is made of plastic. On a college campus with over 5,000 students, food and plastic are produced and served every single meal of every day. So what is Marist Dining doing to minimize waste? What are Marist students doing? 

According to the sustainability page on Sodexo’s website, “Marist Dining Services is committed to environmental stewardship by integrating awareness, local action, and regional and global thinking into planning and decision making”.

Most recently, Sodexo has invested in paper straws at the cafes on campus, as well as straw-less iced coffee cups in the Starbucks served in the library and Hancock. Sodexo Field marketing specialist, Kate Cole, says it was part of the company’s 2025 initiative, in accordance with the Sustainable [United Nations] Development goals. “It really was company wide initiative and really started to grow because as a company we are always aiming for a better tomorrow,” said Cole. Although a small step, it is still important. “The straws are a small part of the grander scheme of moving towards a more sustainable future,” said Cole.

Apart from this, Sodexo has a number of other great initiatives in place.

Local sourcing food is a top priority, which reduces energy consumption, shipping waste and greenhouse emissions. Local farms provide Marist with milk, meat, baked goods, vegetables, and produce. The main dining hall also features a brand new oil recycling process, which ensures that all the oil used when cooking is properly recycled into biodiesel and not waste. Cole says the process began this semester but has been working great so far.

This all sounds great, yet is there room for improvement?

Sophomore Mia Ridgeway, President of Marist SEED, said “One idea I stress is that there should be compost bins in the dining halls…Looking at the conveyor belt where you put dirty dishes on in the dining hall, I always see so much food being wasted. This problem really bothers me because of all the energy and environmental efforts it took to produce that food is wasted”.

Lucky for Ridgeway, two seniors have already got the ball rolling. Last Spring, Erin Todd and Tess Cimino created two compost bins outside Foy Residence Hall which allows students to turn their food waste into valuable soil for the gardens on campus. These two compost bins have now grown into an entire campus wide initiative called Marist Compost. Cimino and Todd partnered with Marist Grounds and are now attempting to get compost bins at all residence halls.

Cimino says the hope is that in the future, there will be small compost bins inside every residence building and larger ones outside. “Our goal right now is educating students on what can and can not be composted. Hopefully by providing compost bins inside the dorms, it will become second nature for people living on campus,” said Cimino. This same concept could be adapted to the dining halls as well, yet Cole says it would need further logistical planning.

Driven by students, Marist’s environmental initiatives are progressing. Both within residence halls and in the dining facilities, efforts are being made to create a more sustainable future. Hopefully, that means a little less food is sitting in a landfill and a little less plastic is floating in the ocean.

Vegetable and herb garden on campus that provides fresh produce to Marist Dining. Soil provided by Marist Compost will be used in the garden once the weather begins to warm up.

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Thrift Store Thrives in Dorm Room

Established only five months ago and launching from a dorm room, the thrift store Old Newzz is already shipping across the country. Caroline Ricci, founder and a senior at Marist College, combined her love for fashion and the environment and created a business in doing so. With each article of clothing being hand selected by Ricci, her store is truly one of a kind.

When most people think of fashion, they think of designer brands and famous logos. To Ricci, this was never the case. “Thrifting is something that I really like because it has a story from someone previous and there’s a story that you can tell with it. That’s something that I really like about fashion,” said Ricci.

Her passion began at a young age and was strongly influenced by her mother. “My mom is an art major so she’s super artistic and creative and when I was a kid she would always dress me. In elementary school, we started thrifting together and I always just had thrifted clothing. From there it just became my own passion,” said Ricci.

More than just a love for unique clothing, Ricci founded her store to do her part in leaving less of a carbon footprint. Her thrift store promotes sustainable fashion, which is essentially fashion that attempts to leave little to no impact on the environment. “In 2050, fashion actually is going to become 25% of the reason why we have global warming. It’s crazy to think that just one industry is going to be 1/4 of the problem. If this is one little thing that can make a difference and I already like doing it, the benefits work well together,” said Ricci.

A frequent customer of Old Newzz and Director of Community Engagement for the on-campus club, Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI), Caroline Verdic also values the importance of environmentally friendly shopping. “Sustainable fashion is a way to give clothes a new life to someone else, whether it’s buying from thrift shops or donating old clothes to organizations,” said Verdic. She also said her club, EFI, attempts to promote the same awareness and mindfulness of recycling your clothing and reducing your waste.

Lacy Catto, another customer of Old Newzz and senior at Marist, said she does her best to be sustainable, yet it is not always easy. “I do my best to avoid supporting fast fashion, but as a college student on a budget, and with a Forever 21 down the street it honestly can be hard,” said Catto.

The fact that Old Newzz is on campus makes shopping sustainably a little more convenient. “I love purchasing clothes from [Ricci] because it’s casual, usually through Instagram DM, and I am able to pick them up or she drops them off the same day. Nothing like instant gratification,” said Catto.

So how does it work? As Catto mentioned, shopping at Old Newzz is very easy and laid back. Ricci markets all of her items on Instagram, under the brand’s page @OldNewzz. If customers see an item they like, all they have to do is send her a direct message. Ricci then reserves the item in her dorm, ready for pick up at any time. She also holds pop up events a few times a month, which are advertised on her Instagram account.

Items range from vintage t-shirts to cropped puffer jackets to corduroy hats. Anything that catches the eye of Ricci makes the cut. Not afraid of the hunt for items, the pieces come from all over the country. “Name a state and I’ve probably thrifted there,” said Ricci. She also prefers hole in wall places rather than pre curated thrift stores, because she said it makes finding the pieces more fun. “This is something I enjoy doing and it makes me happy, so I might as well make other people happy and help them start shopping sustainably,” said Ricci. 

As far as the future for Old Newzz, Ricci plans to move to San Fransisco after graduation and continue to pursue her childhood passion there.