Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Organic College Cuisine vs. Bed Bath and Beyond

The first day of college is a wonderful ritual. Unlike my day when my folks shipped my trunk and put me on a plane, now parents join their kids.
A friend who is writing a piece on environmentalism pointed out how local food is now the sexy area of activism, while paying attention to material objects' origins and fates is less so. This was readily apparent at my daughter's very socially-conscious school Kumbaya U. The dining hall options are eco-awesome! Each table posts their many sourcing options which include vegetarian, vegan, "Farm to Fork" local food, organic, Monterey Aquarium approved sea food, in addition to normal college fare. (But with plastic plates, silverware, and glasses. Go figure. Maybe that was just because of the extra number of visitors there yesterday?)
Contrast that with the scene in the dorms: next to the recycling receptacles were mounting piles of packaging (not readily recyclable on-site), all the boxes and plastics from the essentials provided by Bed Bath and Beyond. We did not fail to stop at BB&B ourselves, since they sell every imaginable item under the Chinese sun. They cleverly provide shipping to your college's closest store, from any location in the country. For a few weeks dorm stuff is this big box store's special feature. As my daughter astutely pointed out, they play on new college students' anxieties about what they will need to be happy away from home. The thing that caught my eye yesterday was a CEO-sized swivel cushioned office chair. Apparently for some the standard issue desk chair is now insufficient for academic success.
Of course come May, a huge percentage of this stuff winds up in the dumpster, since there's no simple way to bring it home, nowhere to store it, and lots of it is not really necessary anyway. What is being marketed is not quite disposable, but not long-term use either. Very clever of BB&B.
Check out Dump and Run and individual colleges' adaptations of this program, groups which promote salvaging and reusing all the discards at the end of the academic year.

1 comment:

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