Students Measure S.L.O.P. to Raise Awareness of Food Waste

Eric Cowell
Every year in the United States roughly 76 billion pounds of food end up in landfills. If you’re having a hard time thinking about how large that amount is, it is equal to the weight of 104 Empire State buildings, or enough to fill the Rose Bowl in Pasadena every day for a year. With food waste being a such a controllable resource waste problem, students from Calvert’s newly formed Students for Sustainability (S.F.S.) Club used a term from an overnight trip to help organize and run Calvert’s first S.L.O.P. competition, which ran from Monday, October 15th to Friday, October 17th in the Middle School.
The goal of the competition was to have students consider the food they were taking for themselves at lunch and attempt to leave the Atrium with more food in their bellies and less in the trash. S.L.O.P., which stands for Stuff Left On Plate, is an acronym used at Echo Hill Outdoor School to discuss a variety of issues in resource waste, but most notably food waste. Both the Sixth Grade students and teachers, who visited Echo Hill in early October, thought that this concept could be implemented in some way at Calvert and the S.L.O.P. competition was born.

Members from the S.F.S. helped organize and run many aspects of the challenge. This included announcing the competition at assembly, directing S.L.O.P to the corresponding Hive buckets, and helping weigh the S.L.O.P. at the end of lunch periods. Throughout the competition, the Middle Schoolers made great efforts to reduce their food waste, and it showed at the end of the week’s totals. On average, a person in the U.S. wastes roughly one pound of food per day or about 5.33 ounces per meal.

During our competition, students had an average of .5 ounces of food waste each meal, and multiple Hives managed to go through the entire week with less than a pound of S.L.O.P., which is a fantastic result!

When asked what would come from the competition, S.F.S. member Ava W. ’20 said she “hoped Calvert students realize how much is wasted at school, and how easy it is to not be so wasteful at school and home”.

S.F.S. is planning to have more weekly SLOP competitions in the future, but are also hoping that spirit of the competition will continue and that we’ll see an overall reduction in the food that is wasted from lunch at Calvert School.
Calvert School is a coed independent lower and middle school.