A new to-go program is set to start in the near future at both cafeterias on campus to reduce the environmental impact of the University. The program is called “Eco-To-Go” and will replace the Styrofoam, or polystyrene, to-go containers.
So far this semester, more than 20,000 polystyrene to-go containers have been used and thrown away by students on campus. These containers are non-biodegradable and, over time, can release over 50 toxic chemicals into the environment which will eventually affect our heath, according to earthresource.org. This program hopes to drastically reduce the environmental waste across campus.
This is a simple program with three steps: swipe and eat, return, repeat.
The first time a student wishes to take their food to-go at the start of the program will be given a plastic, reusable to-go container for free. If a student wants to take their food to-go again later that day or later in the week, the student must return the used container and will receive another washed, sanitized container.
The program is much like a library system, the containers being the books. The containers will be on a check out, check in system, tracked by the student’s campus ID cards.
However, if a student forgets to return their container and wants to take their food to go, they have three options: dine in the cafeteria, use the express line which will soon be expanded to the East College cafeteria or get another plastic to-go container for $5, according to Aramark intern Brigid Gregory.
This program was supposed to be initiated at the start of the semester, but the date was pushed back because the university wanted to get student feedback and raise awareness on campus about this issue.
The second start date was supposed to be Oct. 23, Campus Sustainability day, but that date fell through as well for similar reasons. There is no exact start date at this time.
According to Gregory, the program was developed because some students wanted to use their own reusable containers in the cafeterias instead of the polystyrene boxes available. However, due to health code violations, the students were denied and thus the idea of the program was born. This program will give students the chance to help the environment every day.
Last week a survey was emailed to every student living on campus from the Residence Hall Association (RHA) to get student opinions on Eco-To-Go. The survey explained the program in depth and gave the students an opportunity to provide their thoughts on the program.
The survey consisted of five simple questions which gave RHA resident feedback. It also asked students about a buy-in option, which would give students a chance to participate, according to Nicole Frink, president of RHA.
Frink said she has already heard many different opinions on the program, both positive and negative, and hopes the survey has given RHA a more diverse opinion from other residents.
Gregory said she thinks students will respond positively to the program and they will start to think about the amount of personal waste each student accumulates will make them more responsible, and will eventually enjoy the program.
“There are simple, everyday things that can be done on campus to change the way that we effect the environment and this new program is a great first step for the university,” Sustainability Club president, James McDowell said.