The main purpose of the collection, said Environmental Coalition Co-Head Britt Carlson 04, was to "find out how much student waste we really have."
Last year, the Environmental Coalition collected 574 pounds of waste during the course of one day. Carlson explained that Hays Atkins, the general manager of Bon Appétit, asked the group to collect waste again this year because he wanted to see less waste in the cafeteria, particularly from an economic standpoint, and to raise awareness of excessive waste.
At an Evironmental Coalition meeting Wednesday, Atkins said that 398 pounds of food were collected that night during dinner.
Another goal of the event was to evaluate the possibility of bringing a commercial composter to the St. Olaf campus.
"We dont really know how feasible it is yet," Carlson said. She explained that there is currently a sustainability task force comprised of faculty, staff and students that is investigating ways to make the college more energy and food-conscious.
"A composter is a big upfront investment," Atkins said. "But, right now, compostable disposable products arent worth the extra cost if we cant compost."
The current system for disposing food at St. Olaf, according to Atkins, involves a compactor that comes to campus three times per week. During the 36 to 37 weeks of the year that school is in session, it costs the school approximately $5,000-6,000 to compact the cafeterias trash.
Overall, student reaction to collecting cafeteria waste was mixed, said Carlson.
"There were people who really appreciated it and said they had been thinking about it themselves, and there were also people who didnt want to participate," said Carlson. "We want people to think about it, but we dont want to offend them."