Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Peter Newton

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Ryan Vachon



The current estimates on food waste in the US show that up to 40% of our available food supply is wasted annually. Food waste has economic, environmental and societal consequences. This project examines the topic of food waste on outfitted river rafting trips in the western United States. By examining literature on food waste and surveying outfitters in the industry, this thesis contributes to a better understanding of outfitters’ perceptions of food waste and the factors that contribute to food waste on these river trips. A questionnaire was used to get self-reported data about the nature of food waste on river trips and show how this food waste fits into the greater scope of food waste throughout the United States. Ninety-four point seven percent of outfitters reported that they thought food waste on the river was either a small problem, or no problem at all. The average reported pounds of food waste per person per day on guided river trips was .24 pounds per person per day. This suggests that river outfitters either waste significantly less food than the average United States resident, or they seriously misunderstand the nature of their own food waste. The thesis connects these findings to the greater food waste issue, and makes recommendations for future actions.