A look into the Sustainability of the Rhodes College Refectory

A look into the Sustainability of the Rhodes College Refectory

Emma Knight

With the ever growing threat of Climate Change and Global Warming, it is evident that now is the best, and only, time to take action. Rhodes College acknowledges the danger of Global Warming, and is extremely proactive when it comes to catering to the desires of one of the most active generations in climate advocacy (Gen Z). Rhodes College students and faculty have taken several initiatives to combat this dilemma; by doing so, they are amongst the 70% of universities in the United States which continuously offer vegan/vegetarian meals. With the meat and livestock industry causing around 23% of climate change, it is clear that limiting meat intake is a large step in the right direction.

Other than offering meat-free alternatives for meals, the Refectory, better known on campus as the Rat, also makes sure to offer sustainable options for meat eaters on campus; Rhodes College offers locally and “ethically” sourced meat options with virtually every meal. This is an extremely important option- for some people living a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle is not possible- therefore, it is important that the school provides everyone with an accessible way to lessen one’s carbon footprint. 

One way the school as a whole can advocate for a more environmentally friendly campus is by offering sustainable to-go options. Currently, the Rat uses single use to-go boxes, many of which are made of styrofoam or plastic. When discussing the environmental impact of this material, “Some experts estimate the decomposition of Styrofoam to 500 years, with limited recycling options.” Although styrofoam is horrible for the environment, its convenience and accessibility makes it a popular choice in the food industry. It is imperative that we as a society do not let comfort and ease dictate our future; we must go the extra mile and choose ethically sourced and eco-friendly products when possible. 

A viable solution to this conflict is offering a reward system to encourage and benefit students to take advantage of the more environmentally conscious option. Perhaps, the college should offer Lynx Bucks for every time a student uses a reusable to-go container rather than utilizing the cheap, single use boxes available at the register. A simple reward of 10 cents would easily draw the attention of students, and provide Rhodes College with the opportunity to educate and create a more environmentally conscious community. When asked whether a reward system of Lynx Bucks would encourage them to use reusable to-go containers, one student replied, “Fuck yeah! I need my sushi.” It is clear that while it is impossible to be perfect when it comes to eco-friendliness, it is still possible that Rhodes College can take more steps to make campus life a little greener.