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Engineers Design Successful Minimal Waste Lunch

February 24, 2011

waste-lunchThe focus of the UNM Civil Engineering Department is on sustainability, and on Tuesday, February 22nd, as part of Engineers Week, faculty once again demonstrated they “walk their talk.” They fed nearly 500 UNM School of Engineering students, staff and faculty and collected only one small bag of trash.

The “minimal waste lunch” was a fun event that educated people about sustainability and ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. The lunch showed you don’t need to use a plate when you have a hot dog or veggie alternative with a bun. You don’t need a plate for an apple or a cookie, either. You certainly don’t need sodas or bottled water.

Faculty grilled the hot dogs and veggie alternatives and gave away re-usable water bottles. Posters created by students and faculty about the typical waste generated by similar events and about the environmental concerns associated with bottled water were displayed. After the event, there was a bag of apple cores that will be composted, a bag of plastic and cardboard that will be recycled, and the one small bag of trash.

“I didn't hear any complaints about the lack of plates or sodas,” said event organizer and Civil Engineering Associate Professor Julie Coonrod. “I think everyone enjoyed the food being cooked and served by their professors. We’re hoping other organizations on campus will use this concept to reduce trash and practice sustainability.”

Other activities at the lunch included several tables for student organization displays and three contests:  modify and throw a balsa wood airplane for accuracy and distance, create a device to protect an egg dropped from varying heights, and build a Jenga tower of wooden blocks. Winners of the egg-drop contest were Mike Sheyka, Sherif Aboubakr and Emmy Foley. The team of Scott Chapman, Bhanu Kiran Tuniki, and Anil Geeda won with a Jenga tower stacked 32 layers high. Each winner received a UNM Bookstore gift certificate.

Most photos below by Ryan Morrison, a civil engineering graduate student and research assistant:


Posters with statistics about typical trash from events and other educational information were displayed.


Civil Engineering Department environmental and water resources faculty donated the water bottles.


One of the contests was to see who could build the highest tower of Jenga blocks.


Another contest was to create a device to protect an egg dropped from varying heights..this was the lowest height.


It was a fun, educational event.


Engineers Without Borders, along with several other student organizations, set up informative displays.