A JWU Student’s Efforts to Save the World

Ruth Solomon at the farm

Emily Lemieux, a Connecticut-bred media & communications major, debuts her 1st post with a new feature called “People of JWU.” She’s got a knack for telling stories; read this one about Ruth, a JWU Providence student working to make JWU a zero-waste university.

Ruth wants to make the world a better place. The issue of waste diversion and recycling in the world is big, however few people are involved in making a difference, which means that the people involved have to make big strides for environment-friendly change.

Ruth Solomon, a sophomore at JWU Providence — majoring in Culinary Arts — is one of those people. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting Ruth, you are sure to realize that she is one of the most driven people you will ever meet. Twenty-one years old with curly red hair and a stature that says “nothing can stop me,” it is no surprise that Ruth is the co-president of the Sustainability Club at Johnson & Wales. Ruth’s life is full of drive and passion for sustainability and she is always attempting to save the environment in any way possible.

The JWU Sustainability Club (SASS) aims to increase awareness, advocacy, and activism for the environment both on and off campus. Ruth has been one of the lead activists in recycling efforts on the Providence Campus.

In terms of her involvement and leadership in the club she says, “We should not be so disjointed. The earth is one continuous space and I believe that we all contribute to using resources and energy and we can all benefit by being more ecofriendly. This is the platform that we try to keep for SASS.”

Growing up in New York, Ruth is no stranger to food waste. From a young age she was surrounded by hunger and homelessness but at the same time, lots of food waste. In high school, Ruth began volunteering in soup kitchens hoping that she may be able to make a small effort in a worldwide problem. She also began volunteering to help with different waste diversion and recycling projects and to help reduce the trash problem that continues to grow.

This was also the root of how she ended up in Providence, majoring in culinary arts, hoping that one day she would be able to own a food truck that could be driven around the city to feed the homeless.

After graduating high school, Ruth took time off to further learn about the world and the damage that has been done. She traveled to Israel and explored what it was like to be in a country that worships the land they live in. Once again she combined her love of food in places like Tel Aviv and thought about how one day she would be able to tie this passion into her future. She learned what it is like to grow fresh ingredients such as thyme, parsley, sage, and rosemary in her own garden. Ruth also spent time in Amsterdam tasting how different the cuisine was from Tel Aviv and once again considering how she could use this knowledge to further her future.

“I never thought that a chef could be a profession, but at some point in high school I was into the foodie scene and cooking a lot more and felt very passionate about it. I also feel very passionate about community service, and culinary morphs these two sides of myself together.”

Ruth is already making strides to eliminate food waste in her own way outside of the SASS club. When she is able to find free time in her busy schedule, Ruth makes lunch bags out of leftover foods or whatever she can find and goes around Providence, handing out the bags to people who really need it, the homeless.

Rather than choosing to ignore a growing issue, Ruth always takes the initiative. This past summer, Ruth worked in Martha’s Vineyard, only furthering her efforts to make the world more sustainable. She worked at a farm-to-table restaurant and spent her mornings growing and harvesting a garden for the establishment. She then spent her afternoons in the restaurant kitchen, using what she had harvested to feed customers and put smiles on their faces, a goal that she has had for some time.

Ruth is also a key player in the semi-annual Students for Zero Waste conference that Johnson & Wales is affiliated with and is one of the main reasons that it is all possible. The conference attracts more than 160 students from all over the world who want to make a difference in the way we treat the earth. The SASS group travels to New Hampshire and there they are able to meet with many other people who have the same vision as them.

“At the conference in New Hampshire, our visions and aspirations at SASS at the time were really reinforced.” Without the fundraising Ruth is behind, this trip wouldn’t be possible for JWU students. She helped to organize an event where people can drop off used clothing on campus and then resold the clothes to other students as a way to save money for the conference. Even in her fundraising efforts, Ruth seems to still find a way to help out the environment.

As SASS continues to reduce our carbon footprint and aims to make Johnson & Wales a zero-waste school, Ruth is well on her way to reaching her goals. Only two years left at the college and then we are sure to see Ruth’s soup kitchen truck somewhere on the streets of New York. Ruth is the perfect summation of what Johnson & Wales is all about: having a goal and persevering to reach it. From Tel Aviv, to Amsterdam, to New York, to Providence, rather than leaving a footprint, Ruth is reducing hers and attempting to reduce the rest of the world’s footprint as well.

It’s All About the Journey: A Student’s Quest for Sustainability
Lessons in Sustainability from the 2020 Rhode Island Food System Summit

Ruth, SASS, Cooking Asia + Club of Culinary Excellence planting vegetables in the new plant beds at Harborside.