Students use approximately 4,000 to-go boxes from the dining halls every week, according to a recent press release from Dining Services. Sodexo’s newly instated “Choose to Reuse” program aims to decrease that amount.
Dining Services began a trial run for “Choose to Reuse” Monday, and the trial will last the rest of the semester. The program is scheduled to officially launch Jan. 21, 2015. Sodexo representatives have been working with their sustainability team to plan “Choose to Reuse” for over a month.
“Choose to Reuse” offers students a reusable plastic container instead of a disposable container. Students can check out a reusable box by swiping their card twice: once for their meal swipe, once to register them into the program. From there, students sign a waiver stating that they will return their box or pay a $5 fee. The boxes are clear, green-tinted plastic and contain three food compartments. The system for drinks and utensils will remain the same — only disposable options will be provided.
On the first day of the trial run, Resident District Manager Jeff McClure noticed the reusable boxes were a popular option.
“It’s gangbusters. It’s off the charts. [By lunch,] Sadler had 50-100 gone already,” McClure said.
McClure said that the program was meant to enhance sustainability in the dining realm since the dining halls rely on resources such as paper products and water consumption.
“Sustainability is important to us, and we’re part of you guys,” McClure said. “We’re excited about [‘Choose to Reuse’]. We’ll continue to drive sustainability on campus. It’s not a race. It’s a marathon.”
Julia Varoutsos ’16 said she accidentally picked up a disposable to-go box before she noticed the “Choose to Reuse” display, but said that she will check a reusable box out next time.
“I think they’re great. They’re reusable and you don’t have to wash them,” Varoutsos said. “I would have [taken one], but my hand already touched [a disposable one].
Varoutsos is not the only student who finds the system beneficial. Sara Bellakbira ’15 chose to reuse on the first day of the trial run. She said that she liked the system and that the reusable box was better than the kind Dining Services has tried to implement in previous years because it seals more tightly.
“It’s a new and improved design. It’s a lot more roomy and spill-proof,” Bellakbira said. “I support the reusable to-go boxes. I will definitely keep using them. I don’t even want to turn mine in. I want to keep it and wash it in case they run out.”
Dining Services made reusable to-go boxes available in previous academic years, but this is the first time they have been offered this semester.