Jonathan Bloom discusses issues regarding food waste during the "What a Waste!" talk on April 17 in Packard Laboratory. Bloom's talk was a part of the Office of Sustainability's Earth Week festivities. (Benjamin Wang/B&W Staff)

Lehigh community celebrates Earth Day with week of events

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Jonathan Bloom has spent most of the last decade researching and teaching people all across the country about the effects of wasted food.

Bloom, a journalist, consultant and thought leader on food waste, gave a talk April 17 as part of Lehigh’s Earth Week. The talk focused on the harmful effects of wasted food on the environment, economy and public health.

He offered students concrete ways that a college can eliminate food waste — starting with taking less food at dining halls.

“I was honestly shocked to learn that 40 percent of America’s food supply is discarded every year,” Allison Gleich, ’20, said. “I’m definitely going to be mindful of what I’m eating and know that I can always go back for more food instead of taking too much at first.”

Bloom stressed the idea of taking responsibility and how that responsibility can be translated into motivation to take action.

“We are all culpable for some of this problem of wasted food,” Bloom said. “And the good news there is that we can be a part of the solution.”

The talk was one effort of Earth Week, but the main event, the Earth Day Fair, will take place April 20 on the UC Front Lawn from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Organizations across campus will run 38 interactive booths during the event.

Transportation Services will showcase its electric bus alongside an electric car used by Parking Services. Victoria Interra, a graduate assistant for the Office of Sustainability, said the office will host a tree planting, an Earth Week t-shirt sale and a wildlife demonstration by the Wildlife Conservancy.

“The Earth Day Fair is a great way for groups and individuals to show their love for the environment and to get others as excited about it as we are,” Eco-Rep Emily Conlin, ’20, said.

Festivities began April 15 with a Spring South Side Cleanup, sponsored by Eco-Reps and other organizations such as the South Side Task Force.

Delicia Nahman, a sustainability officer for Lehigh, hosted an online discussion on Monday called Mountain Talk: Sustainability at Lehigh. She focused on the creation and implementation of the Campus Sustainability Plan 2020. This effort, both interdisciplinary and interdepartmental, establishes a long-term vision for sustainability at Lehigh and sets long- and short-term goals for the university.

A “Back to the Roots” dinner was hosted at Rathbone, Lower Court and Broadhead dining halls on April 17. Back to the Roots is an initiative that adopts the classic culinary philosophy of using the entire ingredient from root to stem for a campus dining platform to help reduce food waste.

Lauren Sleeger, the director of Rathbone, said Brodhead House Café’s executive sous chef Josh Charbonneau felt compelled to help reduce the dining services’ carbon footprint, noting the average student generates 142 pounds of food waste per year.

“At the core of this program, as with anything we do at Lehigh Dining, is the food has to taste great and be something our students will enjoy,” Sleeger said. “Our chefs have Back to the Roots recipes as simple as beef, chicken and vegetable stocks. Some of the other items include pineapple kimchi, utilizing the core of the pineapple, tomato soup — rind and all — and carrot-top pesto.”

Zagster Sustainability Bike Tour, a bike tour originating at Farrington Square and continuing throughout South Bethlehem, and Breaking Down Climate Change, part of the ESEI Distinguished Lecture Series, both took place April 18.

Thursday’s activities included the Dravo Waste Audit, Real Food Challenge Dinner and a free screening of National Geographic‘s film “From the Ashes” offered by Zoellner Arts Center. “From the Ashes” dives into the transition from coal to alternative energy sources, specifically in West Virginia.

Pride-A-Palooza took place on Thursday. Scott Burden, the associate director of the Pride Center, said the event was advertised with Earth Week to showcase the connections between environmental and LGBTQ+ social issues.

“We wanted to design an event that as educational in nature that recognizes the interconnections of environmental and LGBTQIA+ justice movements,” Scott Burden said. “As it pertains to environmental justice, we know that the implications of climate change most heavily fall on those who are on the societal margins.”

The worldwide celebration of Earth Day takes place on April 22, and events in the Bethlehem community will continue throughout the weekend.

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  1. Mccrank Resident on

    Save hundreds of dollars a year by making most of your water and sewer bills go away with water conservation. Take a trip south in the winter with the money you save instead of handing it over to the District. Google “Oppose Bracebridge Sewers” for the website which describes a lot of water and power saving ideas. Some are no cost and produce big savings. Governments keep whining about infrastructure costs. The future is a greatly reduced need followed by elimination of residential water, sewer and hydro services.

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