UCLA Health System Cafeterias Go Green
Plastics and styrofoam make way for eco-friendly alternatives in hospital dining commons.
Originally published in UCLA Health Employee News
UCLA Health System recently improved its efforts to promote a healthier environment by replacing nearly all of the food service disposable products in the Dining Commons at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center (RRUCLA) and cafeteria at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital (SMUCLA) with sustainable, renewable products that are compostable and biodegradable.
“Recycling saves landfill space, improves air and water quality, reduces water use and reduces the rate of global warming,” says Patti Oliver, M.S., R.D., M.B.A., director of Nutrition. “There are many extremely important reasons to recycle, and UCLA Health System has decided to be an industry leader in advancing America’s eco-friendly efforts.”
At UCLA, environmentally sustainable food service products include plates, bowls and clamshell take-out containers, which were switched from plastic foam to a sugarcane mixture called Bagasse. When composted properly, Bagasse products will decompose in 90 days or less without introducing any toxins into the environment. RRUCLA has also switched its petroleum-based polystyrene cutlery to an eco-friendly and biodegradable cutlery, which will reduce the carbon footprint that petroleum has on the environment. More than 90 percent of food service disposable products used by RRUCLA and SMUCLA are now made of these materials.
UCLA Health System is also taking steps to promote healthy eating while promoting a healthy environment by offering meatless entrees, made-to-order salads, bison burgers and other foods produced using sustainable agricultural methods. Reducing meat consumption correlates with reducing total livestock production, which in turn reduces methane gas pollution.
Employees can also do their part by using the glass, plastic and paper recycling bins in the food service areas, and by bringing in their own coffee mugs from home to reduce the use of disposable cups. (Employees receive a discount on coffee when they do this.)
“As we all become more knowledgeable about why and how to reduce our carbon footprint in the world, we believe that an increasing number of people and organizations will join in the effort to become more environmentally responsible,” Patti says. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Published: Thursday, May 27, 2010