12 January 2011


In an attempt to make its environment more swanky, 1920 Commons has decided to refurnish and update its locations of foods. The fruit bar has moved to where the nacho bar used to be. The nacho bar and soup have moved to where the fruit bar used to be. They're both displayed rather prettily, and they look less cluttered.

The bread section has switched with the dessert section; now, the dessert has a black-table backdrop rather than a white-table blackdrop, which I suppose more elegant too.

They've also stocked Original flavoured ["Original" has been a flavour for a long time] soymilk rather than Vanilla [read: sugar] flavoured soymilk.

The ice-cream bar now has to share space with the waffle maker [which used to be next to the soup, because it, of course, was completely logical to put a waffle maker next to the chowder...], but I think this makes college kids squeal with happiness. In addition, there is now caramel syrup, marmalade [labelled "pineapple"], strawberry jam, chocolate syrup, SHREDDED COCONUT, and walnuts in syrup stacked in sticky containers near the ice cream.

This change took me quite by surprise.
I ate at Hill today and there was no noticeable change there...so why did Commons decide to ka-boom and polish everything?

It did seem to make people happy, especially the ice cream area.

That was Tuesday night. Yesterday night and tonight at dinner, Commons had moved stuff around again; the dessert, nacho, fruit and soup had all switched places. Commons also has delicious pre-packaged breadsticks from NJ, even though they claim to be "Real Italian" or something...

I think they're trying to test out where the best placement is for... themselves [i.e. best places to put food without having a huge mess to clean up from us students dropping stuff]? For us [so that we walk more and use more Calories]? It's true that changes make people more interested and more likely to lurk longer/more frequently. That's why companies always make new flavours of stuff, and restaurants always have different "FEATURED!" or "SPECIAL!!" items.

At the beginning of my first semester here [what?! Second semester already!?!?], I figured, hey, if I eat ice cream using a cone, I will "save" a bowl and a spoon. That means that energy will be saved, because dishwashers won't have to use energy to clean the bowl and spoon, and chemically cleaned water won't have to be pumped and used and re-cleaned.

However, my logic was pretty bad because the cone itself took a TON OF WATER AND ENERGY to make, not to mention package and transport! Think about it.
The cone: grow flour and other ingredients on a field from a seed to plant. Pick plants, process them, cook/shape them.
The packaging [in a giant cardboard box, with plastic wrapping, perhaps]: grow trees, cut trees, process trees, shape card, fold/glue/staple card.
Transportation from factory to dining hall: more energy.

Now, if we used a ceramic bowl and metal spoon [not disposable!], the energy to create the spoon and ceramic bowl would be invested evidently [synthesising, packaging, transporting], but once it is in the dining hall, every use only uses, say, 1L of water and a bit of dish soap. It is much less than the energy used to synthesise a wafer cone.

However, a paper/plastic [and, please NO, styrofoam] disposable container would be the same as using a wafer cone, although I think that the wafer cone would be more energy efficient because the wafer cone is digested, leaving no trace of garbage.
The digested cone is excreted as heat, water, and in poop, perhaps, and consumed by bacteria and someone cycled back into the soil or water.

So, I suppose the way to conserve the most energy in this circumstance would be
1. Consume less of everything and stop wasting stuff!
2. Use a reusable bowl and spoon.
3. If there are no reusable utensils, use the wafer cone.
4. As the last resort, use disposable utensils [oh how I dislike them!]

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