What sets Meagan Jones, environmental specialist for Housing & Food Service at the University of Texas at Austin, apart from the average employee is her high energy level and passion for sustainability.
Scott Meyer, associate director of Housing and Food Service, says: What sets Meagan apart from the average employee is her high energy level and passion for sustainability. Her position is new for the department and Meagan has been instrumental in creating the framework of this position and setting goals for improvement. A few of the projects created include pre- and post-consumer composting, a reusable takeout container program, an herb and vegetable garden and a divisionwide green team.
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Working in an organization that has embraced sustainability so fully. I can’t take sole credit for any of the sustainability initiatives, but creating the first campus food garden and beginning a pre- and post-consumer composting program have been highlights.
Being closer to the age of the students, I feel like I am able to identify with them more easily and can communicate to them more effectively. Also, sustainability has been more of a way of life through my lifetime, whereas this is a newer concept to some of my co-workers.
Choose your battles wisely. There are many things that I could choose to nitpick, but I try to go for things that will have the largest impact.
Since I am the first sustainability coordinator, I’ve had to blaze my own path and build the trust and respect of many of the people who have been here for a long time.
Recently, I was a judge at a Trashion show, which was a fashion show that used recycled/reusable materials. The student that was introducing the event was describing how our department is providing ways for students to live more sustainably, and it really hit me that the students do recognize and appreciate these efforts.
I hope to continue to work toward making our food service operation and all other parts of our division more sustainable as we all learn how to be better stewards of our environment.
A few years ago we were conducting plate waste studies, which involved scraping food into buckets. I tried to get sufficient volunteers [to help out] but many shifts would end up with just me and one of the dishroom staff left to scrape all of the food. In the middle of a rush, we could have dozens of plates coming back at the same time, and I would have to move as fast as I could to grab the plates before they passed me. I felt like Lucy in that scene at the candy factory, moving as fast as I could and getting half of the food on me instead of inside the bucket.