New ‘Green Monday’ initiative aims at reducing carbon footprint

Deborah Spencer | Contributing Reporter

Green Monday, Washington University’s newest sustainability initiative, encourages students, faculty and community members to take a pledge to eat vegetarian on Mondays.

This initiative, aiming to decrease the University’s carbon footprint by reducing meat consumption, was started by Washington University alumnus David Yeung in 2012 in Hong Kong. Yeung recently brought his program to the United States, beginning with Columbia University earlier this academic year.

Chancellor Mark Wrighton holds up a sign noting he took the Green Monday pledge, designed to increase sustainability on campus.Courtesy of WUSTL Photo Services

Chancellor Mark Wrighton holds up a sign noting he took the Green Monday pledge, designed to increase sustainability on campus.

The Office of Sustainability is sponsoring Yeung’s initiative on Washington University’s campus as another way for students to take part in sustainability.

“We are promoting sustainable food in general. Beyond that, we will be promoting what we already have, such as Eco To-Go boxes and compost,” Mary Ostafi, sustainability coordinator, explained.

As part of the ad campaign, a number of University administrators have been photographed making the Green Monday pledge. Chancellor Mark Wrighton, Provost Holden Thorp, Olin Business School Dean Mahendra Gupta and Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Jen Smith were among the administrators whose pictures appeared on top of tables in the Danforth University Center on Monday.

Provost Holden ThorpCourtesy of WUSTL Photo Services

Provost Holden Thorp

The Office of Sustainability has partnered with Dining Services, Bon Appetit and Aramark to implement the initiative.

“We’ve made sure to have vegan and vegetarian options and have been expanding over time. Our role is in to help promote it. The idea is not necessarily to eat vegetarian, but we are using that as the focal point to consider going a little more green with the way you eat. We are looking to improve all across the board,” Dining Services Manager Paul Schimmele said.

Yeung described the necessity of his initiative as something that he hopes will greatly reduce the global carbon footprint.

“There are two very urgent issues our planet and all of us are facing together. One is called global warming—climate change—and the other one is actually called food insecurity: that we are not having enough food for the planet, and the situation will get a lot worse,” Yeung said. “With global warming, United Nations has been talking for over a decade, that the biggest contributor is actually the livestock industry. When it comes to sustainability, people are not realizing food is a major issue.”

Nadeem Siddiqui, Dining Services district manager, noted his excitement for sponsoring the initiative.

“It’s about building a culture that really understands that every effort, each spot, makes a difference,” Siddiqui said.

Senior Emily Kent, who took the pledge on Monday, was excited to take part in the project.

“I think it’s fantastic. It’s important to realize that our food impacts the environment,” Kent said.

The Eco-Reps, sustainability representatives from each residential college on the South 40, will act as ambassadors for the program. They will be located at the dining areas across campus every Monday this semester asking people to take the pledge.

For ideas on the top vegetarian meals at various eateries around campus, check out our “Eat this, not that!” article in Scene.

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