USF’s dining services have consistently made strides to be as socially responsible as possible. Whether providing fair trade coffee in the cafeteria or offering biodegradable silverware, Bon Appetit has been on par with environmentally-friendly amenities.
The crusade for fair trade coffee on campus began last year when the entirely student-run organization Back to da Roots collaborated with Bon Appetit to make all the coffee available in the USF cafeteria fair trade. USF students have continued the movement to expand conscious living on campus.
Environmental studies major Brittany Rowles, co-president of Back to da Roots, described Bon Appetit’s response to Back to da Roots effort to make fair trade coffee available at all campus vendors as cooperative and helpful. Rowles said, “We went in and talked…we said: what can we do to get fair trade coffee in Outtakes? She (Holly Winslow) said ‘You want fair trade coffee in outtakes? Done.'”
But the battle to make fair trade coffee available throughout campus is not over yet. Switching all of USF vendors’ coffee to fair trade would require Bon Appetit to juggle three separate contracts for Crossroads, Outtakes, and the cafeteria. Such an effort would require considerable demand and support from the student body.
“[Holly Winslow] said the only way we could get it in Crossroads would be to provide statistical evidence on the customers of Crossroads,” said Rowles. Back to da Roots is currently in the process of making informational flyers about fair trade practices to raise awareness on campus and petition students to give that consciousness a voice. It will take an estimated two months before both Crossroads and Outtakes will be able to make the change to 100 percent fair trade coffee, but Back to da Roots members feel certain that USF students will continue to demonstrate a desire for ethical food choices on campus. Rowles said, “Based off the amount of students that come to our fair trade event…there is so much energy and so much momentum that I do think there is a push for fair trade coffee.”
While the future for fair trade on campus is optimistic, there are other environmental improvements that can be implemented at USF. Some students still have concerns about the amount of recycling taking place in campus eating facilities.
A Crossroads employee, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that while the recycling and composting options in the cafeteria are impressive, Crossroads’ recycling efforts leave a lot to be desired.
“Essentially, on paper there’s recycling,” he said, indicating there are receptacles for recyclable and non-recyclable waste. However, he explained that Crossroads uses the same black, non-biodegradable bags for both bins, meaning that when the waste is taken out, the two are indistinguishable and both end up in the landfill.
The anonymous student argued that it would be pretty easy to improve the recycling system by substituting clear trash bags for the recyclable waste and posting larger, more noticeable signs. “It’s just a matter of small effort,” he said. In addition, neither Crossroads nor Outtakes have a compost bin. “Everything gets thrown away,” he said.
Bon Appetit district manager Holly Winslow has demonstrated her commitment to the environment in many instances, even taking the initiative to contact Jamba Juice corporate headquarters and negotiating with them until they agreed to rid USF of environmentally detrimental Styrofoam cups.
“Bon Appetit is the kind of company that has the moral obligation to be sustainable…as a business policy it is a non-negotiable. Composting and recycling are a part of who we are,” said Winslow.
But while Bon Appetit is currently in the process of re-labeling Outtakes’ recycling system, which Winslow referred to as “a nightmare,” she stated no current plans to reform Crossroads’ failing recycling program.
“Improvement needs to be from the Crossroads management team,” said Winslow. It may be up to students to continue to lead the charge of conscious consumerism on campus by taking responsibility for their own waste management.