Green Monday sees success in first months

| Contributing Reporter

The Green Monday Initiative to decrease Washington University’s carbon footprint has received hundreds of sign-ups and sparked changes to dining specials to reduce meat consumption.

By signing the Green Monday pledge, students, faculty and staff agreed to forgo eating meat on Mondays and to be more environmentally aware. The initiative was started by a University alumnus in Hong Kong, David Yeung.

Since the initiative was implemented on campus about three months ago, the initiative has led to the creation of new vegetarian meals, featured every Monday at the dining locations on campus and at the Medical School cafes. According to Sustainability Fellow Jennifer Carter, 500 people took the Green Monday pledge in the first week alone.

The new vegetarian specials have been well-received, according to Bon Appetit’s Director of Marketing and Communications, April Powell.

“Our chefs have done a really great job of coming up with a unique variety of specials to offer at different stations,” Powell said. “We’re excited about the amount of variety that’s come out of the Green Monday Initiative.”

Green ambassadors, including staff and sustainability representatives from the Congress of the South 40, sit at Bear’s Den and the Village eatery from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. each Monday. They emphasize the sustainability message of the week, as well as sign up new pledges. There is now an option to take a sustainability pledge online as well.

“The majority of people I have talked to at this point have heard of it and have taken the pledge, so that’s really exciting,” Carter said.

Not everyone who has taken the pledge has followed the regulations, however, with some students forgetting entirely and others hoping to take it a step further.

“I already don’t eat red meat, so I haven’t been putting in a conscious effort. I think it’s a really good idea to limit the meat consumption because it’s really good for the environment,” freshman Kathryn Anne Robinson, who took the pledge, said.

Robinson also said she might try to refrain from meat entirely for a week or month at a time in the future.

Sophomore Abby Gordon shared that she has been trying to uphold the pledge to go meatless—but not necessarily on Mondays.

“I wouldn’t say that I’ve necessarily done meatless Mondays, but I’ve been trying to do meatless once a week. I respected what they were doing; that’s why I signed up,” Gordon said.

Every Monday morning, the Office of Sustainability coordinators join the Dining Services meeting to discuss what to focus on that week as a theme and check the other sustainability efforts in place, such as composting.

So far, the only feedback Dining Services and the Office of Sustainability have received on the initiative has been through word of mouth and email. Dining Services is planning to begin quantifying its success by measuring the number of specials sold by the end of the year. They will also be discussing how they can improve in future semesters.

Sophomore Veronica Jong, sustainability chair for CS40, said she hoped to see growth for Green Monday in the future.

“I would love to see Green Monday grow a bit stronger next year and in future years. If we can help any new programs and initiatives which are still in the works to help spur the program, that would be great,” Jong said.

Nadeem Siddiqui, Bon Appetit’s Resident District Manager, said that the initiative will require more effort to help change the campus culture towards eating meat.

“It’s education, the issue of why we should eat more plant-based food, rather than animal. It will continue to take continuous education and time and commitment to engage and understand the value [of sustainability,]” Siddiqui said. “As much as students want to do that, it’s not easy. We have to improve the access of sustainability.”

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