Food Waste Action Week

Thanks to the existing collaboration between Edge Hotel School and the University of Essex Sustainability Team, a group of students from EHS showcased their Small-Scale Sustainability Projects during the Sustainability Awareness Week on 7 March 2024. As the Tourism, Hospitality and Events industry endeavours to find strategies and solutions to tackle the environmental emergency, our students are at the forefront of implementing these changes.
Hospitality and Events students at Essex participate in a mandatory sustainability module. Led by lecturer Dimitri Lera, the course equips students with employability skills and sustainability competencies. 
The practical knowledge they gain champion students with sustainable practices upon entering the workforce, boosting their employability. At the end of the module, students present project ideas, designed to propel the industry towards a more sustainable future, to an Industry Panel. The panel, composed of industry representative, assess the projects and present students with an Industry Project Award. These projects are what they then showcase during the university's Sustainability Awareness Week.

Student projects

All projects shared a common thread: reducing the hospitality and events industry's carbon footprint through raising awareness campaigns.
One group tackled food waste by increasing knowledge of responsible food consumption among students. The same group championed Guardians of Grub Food Waste Reduction Campaign. Food donations made by students were given to a local Food Bank. 
Another group explored ways to reduce electric energy consumption by raising awareness among peers in accommodation, where signs and posters promoted more environmentally friendly behaviours, such as switching off lights when leaving a room. Primary research carried out by the students indicated that students are 10% more likely to behave more sustainably if such reminders are in place. 

The next group is designing an art installation, which they plan to display in the Art Exchange. Inspired by theories of circular economy, this project cleverly reuses waste (mainly bottles) to create imagery of lights to tackle plastic/glass waste within the hospitality and events industry. 
Two other projects look at fast fashion and its impact on the industry, clothing including Wivenhoe House Hotel uniforms that they will collect and donate to a local charity.
One other group has ignited an EHS Plant a Tree initiative. Each year a different group of students will liaise with a local nursey, whose donation will help create a EHS Green Initiative Corner.

These diverse projects highlight the importance of sustainability education. Equipping young people and future industry leaders with this knowledge fosters positive environmental impact within their chosen fields. Including a sustainability module should be a goal for all relevant academic programs. 
This student-driven initiative demonstrates a strong desire to make a positive change. By applying these theories and ideas in the real world, our future hospitality professionals have the potential to significantly impact the industry's environmental footprint.