Beginning November 25, 2019, UC San Diego Transportation Services has expanded their new pay-by-plate program, using the app Parkmobile as part of their goal of phasing out plastic and paper permits. TS sent out a notice about this expansion, stating:
“Transportation Services (TS) will be expanding the pay-by-plate program for all pay stations (excluding patient parking) starting November 25, 2019. Using license plates as a parking credential enables TS to verify parking fee payments by electronically reading vehicle license plates; essentially, the plate becomes the permit. This added expansion is part of our commitment to our environment, reducing the need for plastic and paper permits. Using license plates as the parking credential also safeguards permitholders from warnings or citations when permits fall or are forgotten.
In this next phase, campus pay stations will be reconfigured to accept license plate information, eliminating the need for visitors to display a paper permit on their dashboard. The pay-by-plate conversion starts November 25, 2019 with the pay stations located in lots P703, P704, and P705. We will continue to convert the pay stations on campus and we will be completed by no later than December 20, 2019. Signage will be posted at the entrance of the lots and on the pay station’s screen.
In the future, UC San Diego will move towards using license plates in lieu of physical permits for our faculty, staff and students. In preparation, we ask that you log into your parking account at transportation.ucsd.edu and review the vehicle(s) you have listed. Please ensure that both license plates and vehicles are accurate and update your account, as needed.”
Although this may seem to be a small change, thinking about the number of plastic student, faculty, and staff permits are made every quarter, in addition to the paper visitor passes, phasing out these physical permits in exchange for a pay-by-plate program would have a fairly large environmental impact!
I sat down with Clara Pierone, president of Ellie’s Garden, located in Eleanor Roosevelt College.
Can you give a brief description on Ellie’s Garden and what the organization does?
Ellie’s garden is a club that tends to three plots in ERC. We plant foods and flowers and all types of plants, and we also do composting. We get coffee grounds and food scraps from students and events! We also really encourage the community to take what we grow.
How is your organization involved in the sustainability community?
For, one we promote growing your own food, and eating food directly from the ground, trying to educate people for healthier and more sustainable eating. We promote composting, and lend compost bins to students. We also are known to do a lot of tree plantings which are good for our planet!
Does Ellie’s Garden have any specific goals for the 2019-2020 school year?
I think we are really interested in getting more students composting. We’d really like to get a solid bin loaning program operating and a more educational program to get as many people do do it as possible. That’s definitely a goal this year. We are hoping to get another fourth plot and turn it into something beautiful, like maybe a butterfly garden!
Do you have any advice for how an individual on campus can contribute to sustainability?
Definitely being aware of where your food is coming from and reducing packaging and being aware of campus resources, like Ellie’s Garden. Be aware of what can and can’t be composted!
How could someone get involved in Ellie’s Garden?
It’s so easy! Show up and garden wit us anytime. We have gardening sessions Sat 12:30-2:30, and Wednesday 10am-11am between Africa and Asia halls. You can come and go as you please! Not a large commitment to be a member. We also love to take people’s requests for things to plant, especially if it will be eaten.
Is there anything you’d want people to know?
There are so many places which promote sustainability who are happy to talk to people! We’d love to talk to you about sustainability. The resources are there, you just need to take advantage of it.
How could you start composting at home?
Get a bin, you can get a bin from us or you can use your own. We just don’t take milk and meat products, but we take eggshells, onion skins, other produce scraps, stems, coffee grounds and tea bags. Empty it when it starts to get full. Compost bins are between Europe Hall and North America hall. I will add that we have been getting a lot of composting bags, but they take a much longer time to degrade than their food. It is important to note that plastic can’t be composted! People still don’t get that sometimes. Although, paper can be composted, and compostable containers, like the ones that come from the Food Co-op can go into the compost! Compost is basically green stuff, brown stuff, water, oxygen, and little bugs!
In an effort to promote sustainable organizations on campus, this interview focuses on the Ocean Lover’s Club, represented here by club officer Kylie Morgan. The Ocean Lover’s Club is a student organization which promotes community engagement and clean oceans.
Can you give a brief description on Ocean Lover’s club and what the organization does?
“As a club, we work toward keeping the ocean clean, educating the community, and appreciating where we live. We host ocean cleanups and assist larger organizations on campus in order to promote the larger goal of sustainability. A few of the events we hold include bi- weekly ocean cleanups. We also host bigger, fun days where everyone is welcome, so that people can appreciate the ocean.”
What does it mean to appreciate the ocean?
Appreciating the ocean means spending time there in a positive manner. Go there when you have a bad day! I was there recently and as the wave crested, I thought I had seen a big fish, but we figured out it was actually a leopard shark! That’s another thing, we try and make sure people aren’t scared of the ocean, or scared of sharks.
How is your organization involved in the sustainability community?
We are a part of the Inter- Sustainability Council (ISC), and we attend ISC events. We also collaborate with Students for Conservation to do beach cleanups! Additionally, we attend sustainable events on campus. For example, even though the Ocean Lover’s Club doesn’t focus on food, we sent officers to the Sustainable Food Expo to support sustainability events!
Does Ocean Lover’s Club have any specific goals for the 2019-2020 school year?
This academic year is about growth as a club. Last year was the first full year for us! The Ocean Lover’s Club is still a small club but this year we are looking to expand!
Do you have any advice for how an individual on campus can be mindful of our oceans?
Being really mindful of microplastics! A lot of people aren’t really aware about the issue of microplastics, but a lot of beauty products and facial scrubs contain harmful microbeads! Also, support local brands who are also for the ocean when you can.
How could someone get involved in Ocean Lover’s Club?
We have club meetings every other weekend, and beach clean ups every other weekend. We also have snorkeling and kayak events every quarter and ANYONE can come out!
Is there anything else you would want people to know about the Ocean Lover’s Club? We are just a really happy community of friends and positive growth. We want to try and support you in any way we can to support the sustainability community in the way we know how!
UCSD Staff Member | Program Manager, Rooted in Flavor
How did the idea for Rooted in Flavor come about?
Rooted in Flavor was inspired by the national Menus of Change® initiative and similar programs throughout the UC System. Housing, Dining and Hospitality (HDH) has been a member of the Menus of Change collective for more than four years.
Given the positive impact that implementing the principles of Menus of Change had already had on the food we serve, we decided that now was a good time to really dial in on a few key goals to further guide our efforts. We came up with a set of initial goals, with a long-term plan to evaluate and add new goals on an annual basis.
We decided that our initial approach would be to work to reduce the amount of beef that we serve, while increasing seafood, whole grains and wellness items on our menus. Every member of our team had a voice in the process. We collectively make changes to our menus, recipes, supply chains, systems and messaging that will support this direction.
How would you describe your role?
My role has been to act as a project manager and liaison between the different groups working on this program, while ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to have their voice heard and their concerns addressed. As we all have very different priorities and ideas, we identified the need to create forums and subcommittees where everyone’s voice could be heard, which enables us to make collective decisions. My role has been to act as the central voice of the project in its infancy and ensure that, once the group makes decisions, we continue to move forward without losing momentum.
Give us an idea of how much the menu options have changed since last academic year. What changes stand out most to you?
We have many new and exciting options at our restaurants this year. We’re focusing on bringing local and sustainable seafood to more of our stations, and making plant-forward options a focus of every station. We’re paring down some of the beef offerings that we have, including a beefless Monday initiative. To support this, we’re introducing new and exciting options on Mondays, such as shrimp burritos, potato soyrizo tacos and black bean rajas burgers. Our goal is to make Mondays about trying something new and exciting, not about missing the beef.
Additionally, we’ve made changes to our pricing structure and the presentation of several of our Rooted in Flavor dishes. This makes them more accessible, and provides more value to students and the campus community.
I’m most excited about one of our most subtle changes: making artisan, handmade pizza dough at OceanView out of whole-grain flour. It’s small changes like this that will have a huge impact for us.
What has been the impact of this program on staff, so far?
With any large rollout, having the entire team on board is key. In our education and training about this program, we’ve chosen to highlight the “why” — for example, why we should decrease beef or the impacts of whole grains on health. Our team is excited to embrace the program, and have their voices heard through our trainings and discussions.
What was most challenging about developing this program? How did you and your team overcome that challenge?
The most challenging part was knowing where to start and getting everyone to buy into our initial set of goals. We leaned on the student community to find out what they’d be interested in trying and what they’d like to keep the way it is. We conducted more than a dozen tastings, surveys and tabling events during spring quarter to capture this feedback. It’s something we plan to continue.
How did you and your team break the rollout of this program down into small, achievable steps, so the work wouldn’t become overwhelming?
We formed six subcommittees that each worked on different areas: menus, recipes, procurement, systems, training and engagement. It was my role to ensure that each group had the resources it needed to meet its milestones. Each group had a chair, and the chairs would meet on a biweekly basis to collaborate and make sure that each aspect of the program was in harmony with everything else.
What have you learned from your involvement in Rooted in Flavor? What are you still learning?
I’ve learned that there is a huge interest from our student community, especially when it comes to food sustainability. I’m excited to learn more from our students as we continue our efforts.
What emerging trends in sustainable food initiatives inspire you?
There’s so much good stuff out there! Something we’re excited about doing is urban farming here at UC San Diego. We’re opening our second aeroponic tower farm at Canyon Vista this fall. We already have one at 64 Degrees, and we’re excited to grow our own produce a few feet away from where it’s served.
Do you have any favorite books or films about food or food sustainability?
I would highly recommend the Eat-Lancet Commission on food sustainability. It’s a scientific report highlighting the changes we need to make to our diets to accommodate a growing population to avoid critical climate change impacts.