Ever thought of throwing away the rest of your dinner in a container filled with worms? In the new eco-kitchen at the Penn Women’s Center, you may find yourself providing a meal to these squirmy animals instead of filling up a garbage bag.
On Friday afternoon, the Women’s Center — located at 3643 Locust Walk — will unveil Penn’s first eco-kitchen during its open house from 2–4 p.m.
“The Women’s Center is here for Penn students, staff and faculty,” PWC Director Felicity Paxton said, adding that student groups may book the kitchen for events and activities.
The kitchen, which was constructed in one year, was funded by a Green Fund from the Penn Green Campus Partnership. It features sustainable appliances, including a worm composter, which will transform food waste into natural fertilizers for the Center’s garden.
All of the appliances will have labels with explanations on why they are “green” with a warning that reads “Don’t make me blue,” said Engineering sophomore Ana Mei, who is involved with the Center.
“Penn has a strong commitment to sustainability and is doing incredible work across campus, but students don’t see a lot of it because a lot of it is happening on rooftops, in basements, in installation walls,” Paxton said.
As a result, the Women’s Center wished to create a space that was sustainable but also “touchable, usable and visible,” she said.
College sophomore Laura Bustamante, one of two coordinators of the eco-kitchen, will be busy making organic oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate and chocolate chip cookies on Friday in preparation for the grand opening. The open house will feature local pears, apples and hot and cold cider from Beechwood Farms as well as s’mores and other snacks.
“We always want to make the Women’s Center a space that is open and welcoming to students,” Bustamante said. Paxton added that the Center is also very male-friendly and open to all students.
Aside from the food, Paxton hopes “students will see how easy it is to make life greener” through the eco-kitchen.
“We are hoping to have study breaks and more events,” Bustamante said.
The Women’s Center hopes to integrate the idea of eco-feminism into the use of the kitchen in the future, she added.
“We are interested in questions like why women are doing a lot of the work to protect the environment,” Paxton said, adding that on a global scale, women are “largely responsible, especially in developing countries, for the provision of food and the collection of water and firewood.”
“Women carry a disproportionate burden,” Bustamante said.
After the kitchen’s opening, Bustamante said she hopes elementary-school students can come in to learn about kitchen sustainability.
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