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College of Human Ecology

'Trash talking' K-State instructor teaches ways businesses can be green and profitable

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

MANHATTAN -- David Olds talks trash to his students: paper and Styrofoam clog landfills, ozone-damaging refrigerants injure air quality, sprinkling systems decimate water resources.

Olds, a graduate teaching assistant, teaches Environmental Issues II for the department of hotel, restaurant, institution management and dietetics in Kansas State University's College of Human Ecology. His students are future dietitians and managers for hotels, restaurants, golf courses and other hospitality businesses. Some will deal with the trash of thousands of customers a month.

"We tell them their businesses can be profitable and environmentally friendly," Olds said. "And we tell them how."

Waste stream analysis and waste audits allow hospitality and health care businesses and schools to examine their trash going out and the materials coming in.

"If there is a cost problem - such as energy bills or food waste -- try to find a solution that is eco friendly," Olds urges students.

He teaches the course on campus and online. The course syllabus includes easy solutions such as recycling cans and bottles. Other areas are more ticklish such as waste reduction.

One example is called eco-purchasing. Olds advises future professionals to scrutinize packaging waste and be firm with vendors about packaging practices.

"It's smart for business," he said. "In the hospitality industry, an effort toward sustainability shows you are a good steward of the environment."

Practices gaining acceptance, according to Olds, are:

* Involving hotel guests in water conservation by asking that towels and
bedding not be replaced daily.

* Using energy recovery from chillers and laundry dryers to heat water.

* Saving water by using the final rinse water in hotel laundries as the
first wash water in the following batch of laundry.

* Installing low-flow showerheads and toilets in hotels.

* Reducing the use of bottled water.

"K-State hotel, restaurant, institution management and dietetics students enrolled in Environmental Issues II will have a competitive advantage over students graduating from other hospitality and dietetics programs that do not have such a course," said Carol Shanklin, who conducted pivotal research on waste stream analysis and recycling in the food service industry. Shanklin is a professor and interim dean of the Graduate School at K-State.

Among the issues covered in Environmental Issues II are: the effects of smoking laws on business; dealing with expensive ozone-friendly refrigeration systems; and energy-efficient lighting.

"K-State graduates are prepared to address operational concerns, such as controlling energy costs, minimizing waste and conserving water and other resources during their internships and first positions," Shanklin said.

"We encourage them to be environmentally friendly and profitable," Olds said. "The reality is that most businesses have to be profitable first. We try to expose them to ways to be green and profitable. But it's a conundrum."

Source: David Olds, 785-532-5513, daveolds@k-state.edu
Note to editors: Similar stories on K-State's sustainability efforts are available at http://www.k-state.edu/media/webzine/green/index.html
News release prepared by: Jane Marshall, 785-532-1519, jpm2@k-state.edu

This article was posted on Tuesday, May 13, 2008, and is filed under College News, Hospitality Management.