Why we should love trayless dining:

Posted by at 11:11PM

Near the end of my workday today I gave my e-mail one final check and discovered that a, shall we say, “critical” review of Stanford Dining’s new pilot “trayless dining” policy had been published in the Daily. After muttering a few frustrated expletives to my co-worker, I soon resigned myself to the fact that if someone hates the idea of trayless dining then it is not their fault. If anything, it is a sign of my failure as someone fighting to increase the resilience and sustainability of our society in the face of, let’s be honest, some crazy environmental shit.
As such, here is my educational two cents about the infamous dining hall tray.
The facts about trayless dining at Stanford (and why not using trays is a good thing):
1) You can have a tray if you need one/want one/desire one/passionately lust for one in the fashion of the Stanford student who wrote the aforementioned article found here http://www.stanforddaily.com/cgi-bin/?p=1033368 .
2) Trayless dining is a pilot program of Stanford Dining based on a survey of approximately 500 Stanford students completed last spring. It’s part of their well-established Love Food, Hate Waste Campaign. It has been planned with rationality and care, and is not what I would define as a radical move.

3) Trays = unnecessary waste. You and I both know that it’s easy to trudge home for dinner at the end of the day and totally load up on all-you-can-eat munchies, only to realize five minutes in that you will probably vomit if you consume everything on your plate. Excess food = waste of water/energy/land resources + unnecessary carbon dioxide emissions (both due to the food production process, and due to the emissions that go along with dealing with food waste). No tray = less likely to take too much food. Logical. Beneficial. End of story.
4) No trays = saves water (they say it takes half a gallon to wash one tray one time) = saves money for Stanford Dining = they have other money to do things like buy good food and keep staff on board.
5) Trayless dining is an awareness campaign. It is visible. It is personal. It may not have huge effects on our school’s water consumption, but it makes Stanford students think a little more about the resources they consume in a one-way, irreversible manner (RANDOM FACT: the freshwater we use at Stanford is treated and expelled to SF bay, a saltwater body, and is not reused). If this is not apparent enough, then it’s on us – the students who care about it – to step up and help Dining advertise the reasons behind their apparently appalling traylessness.
I could throw a bunch of statistics/official-ish facts at you to back all this stuff up (feel free to contact me if you would like them – elainea1@stanford.edu); but I will refrain.
The moral of the story is, if you can’t deal with going without trays in your dining hall then maybe you should sit down for a chat with one of the tropical climate refugees who has already lost their home and livelihood due to permanent island inundation. Or maybe you should talk to your children in fifty years and explain to them why the Colorado River and the Sierra Snowpack are no longer able to provide water to the Californian public. Or maybe you should consider the facts, consider your morals, and readjust your position on trayless dining accordingly.



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