A Greener Tomorrow
Muhlenberg Dining is committed to teaching today's students how to have an impact on tomorrow. With its dedicated team, Muhlenberg Dining has developed several innovative, on-campus programs and partners with Muhlenberg to foster the College's vision to create ways to positively impact our environment. In 2019, Muhlenberg Dining was recognized as #10 in the country for our Food & Dining program according to The Sierra Club's "Coolest Schools" ranking.
Each year, Muhlenberg Dining offers internship experience for students interested in a future career in sustainability and marketing food and beverage. Our three sustainability interns support the Muhlenberg Dining team in the process of developing and implementing sustainable dining promotions such as Weigh the Waste, The Farmers Market, and local purchasing tracking. Our interns also attend sustainability conferences, trips to Butter Valley Harvest and other educational events. We use their input at every stage of the process to inform and inspire creative ideas, and guide the implementation of the resulting promotion campaigns.
Greening Committee Berg Sustain
Muhlenberg Dining is proud to be an integral part of the President’s Greening Committee. The Greening Committee aims to provide leadership to the Muhlenberg community in support of the College’s strategic goals of sustainability and good environmental citizenship. It was created in 2003 by President Helm to examine, propose, and monitor sustainability efforts, reduce resource use and promote dialogue on and off campus. The Greening Committee is composed of faculty, staff, and student representatives. In 2019, Muhlenberg College was awarded Gold status by AASHE.
Hydroponic Herb Garden
Hydroponics is the cultivation of plants using water and nutrient solutions without soil. It is sustainable for a number of reasons; it’s water efficient, eliminates soil erosion problems, and there is no need for herbicides or soil fertilizers that traditional soil methods require. The hydroponic herb garden will grow various herbs and lettuces that will be utilized in the Dining Commons. All herbs will be dedicated for garnishes and ingredients for fresh-made salads. They will also be used to make our fresh herb-infused vinegars (these sun-brewed vinegars will be used to make our “Solar Vinaigrettes”). Also involved with the project is Ryan Ehst, owner/farmer of Butter Valley Harvest in Bally, PA, located just 15 miles from Muhlenberg College. BVH hydroponically grows herbs, greens and tomatoes. Muhlenberg Dining has been involved with Butter Valley Harvest since 2010 and Ryan Ehst donated the planter trays for Muhlenberg’s hydroponic herb garden. Recently, Our interns have experimented with different flow rates and nutrient concentrations to increase Ehst's yield. We've seen success so far in their findings!
‘Berg To Go
In Fall 2012, Muhlenberg Dining embarked on a mission to reduce the amount of waste being created by disposable To-Go containers in the Wood Dining Commons. After several trial periods, focus groups and collecting feedback, 'Berg To Go launched in Fall 2013. We appreciate your participation and together, we can make a positive impact on our future!
Think Before You Tray
When the Wood Dining Commons opened in Fall 2010, Muhlenberg Dining introduced an initiative to steadily decrease the usage of trays in an effort to reduce water usage. Rather than not offering trays, we ask guests to make the conscious decision as to whether or not a tray is necessary. Since its inception, Think Before You Tray has resulted in decreasing the amount of trays available in the Food Gallery from 800 to 300.
The Food Recovery Network
In the spring of 2019, we partnered with the Food Recovery Network on campus to donate leftover food to local shelters in the Lehigh Valley. This is an important initiative that helps reduce food waste on campus as well as fights food insecurity in our area.
Weigh the Waste
The Weigh the Waste (WTW) program is an educational opportunity to raise awareness of food waste over a specific course of time by weighing post-consumer food waste. Muhlenberg Dining staff is responsible for tracking and documenting uneaten food in the Wood Dining Commons during a specific time frame and shares the information with its guests in an effort to reduce waste and improve portion control. View some of our results here!
Reusable Mugs & Mason Jars
We invite all members of the community to take advantage of our Reusable Mug Program! Bring your own mug to the Wood Dining Commons or enjoy $1.09 refills at Java Joe, The GQ and LSC Cafe! In Spring 2018, we started to offer reusable mason jars at Java Joe and The GQ. Mason Jar owners get a discount on refills, and proceeds benefit EnAcT! You'll also find mason jars being used for some of our new limited time items such as the seven layer dip at Java Joe. We encourage students to use these mason jars as an alternative packaging source. Used mason jars can be brought back to Java Joe.
We proudly use Compostable Eco-Products brand items for our single use packaging and use. We are committed to being 100% by December 2019 with only a few products to convert when they are made available to us. We are also working with our waste-stream provider, SWS, who has recently been purchased by Waste Management, to explore composting of our pre- & post-consumer waste.
Cups & Bowls… are offered in all of our locations, including the Wood Dining Commons. They are lined with PLA plastic and are fully compostable and made from renewable materials.
Sugarcane Bowls & Plates… are made from sugarcane and are a welcome, eco-friendly solution to traditional plastic or polystyrene. Strong, durable and liquid resistant, sugarcane fiber products are compostable and made from a fast growing, renewable material. These are used in our retail locations and at the Noshery in the Wood Dining Commons.
Plant Starch Cutlery… is primarily made from renewable plant starch materials. These are available in our retail locations and at the Wood Dining Commons. In Fall 2018, all cups, lids, and straws at Java Joe were replaced with a plant-based product. In Spring 2019, our "Have a Taste" spoons at each restaurant in the Wood Dining Commons were replaced with a fully compostible Eco Product.
Muhlenberg College celebrates Earth Day annually in the Spring semester. This event includes local food, music, performances, and an opportunity to connect with advocacy groups to learn how you can make a difference in the environment!
In Spring 2018, we got rid of our plastic straws in The Wood Dining Commons and the GQ. Plastic straws are petroleum-based, never fully break down, and they end up in our waterways. Paper straws are more sustainable as they break down, and they do not cause harm in our oceans. Converting to paper straws is part of an effort around the world to improve our planet. We were inspired by a small village in Northwest Scotland, where students joined forces to lobby to local businesses as part of the #NaeStrawAtAw (No Straw At All) campaign. Because of their efforts, the village committed to being a plastic straw-free village.