September 3, 2008

Short Takes

All-you-can-eat is less than you can carry

The University of Virginia and Virginia Tech are among the growing list of colleges ditching cafeteria trays. Tech stowed the trays this summer at its all-you-can-eat dining centers and found food waste dropped 38 percent. Tech's energy and sustainability coordinator Denny Cochrane told the Times Dispatch that not having to wash the trays also saved water and electricity.

This fall, UVa is taking the trays out of dining halls. The movement came about after students conducted a "waste audit" by staking out trash cans at Observatory Hill and finding 880 pounds -- much of it uneaten food -- was heading for the landfill.

This isn't so much a comment on the quality of the food, but rather on diners' eyes being bigger than their stomachs. When you don't have to juggle dishes, and can easily carry more than you can eat on a tray, diners pack it on.

No word yet on whether trayless dining offers a cure for the Freshman 15.

Someone has to clean the mess

Last Saturday, volunteers spent the day hauling trash out of the New River in Giles County. Just where does all this crud come from? Tires, mattresses, carpet, chairs, a baby bed -- in all, several dump trucks full of trash were picked up and hauled away.

We'll set aside our ire at the numbskulls who think any remote outpost is their own personal landfill and, instead, offer cheers and thanks to those who pitch in to haul it out.

Another opportunity to clean streams will come Oct. 4 during the Fall Waterways Cleanup and Celebration of the Roanoke River and its tributaries in Roanoke, Roanoke County and Vinton. Want to help? Register before Sept. 25 with the Clean Valley Council at (540) 345- 5523 or

Nature makes its own debris of limbs and such that can dam streams. If that were all that volunteers had to contend with, the task would be easy. Unfortunately, too many louts still walk among us.

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