Reusable Foodware On the Way



To-go boxes near the entrance to Proctor Dining Hall.


Dining services has ordered 2,000 reusable containers and is working with student authors of an SGA bill to create a reusable to-go container system. They hope to switch over to the system one week after students return from spring break.

The SGA bill was introduced on Jan. 28 by Leif Taranta ’20.5, Sierra Moen ’17.5 and Feb Senator and SGA Speaker Rae Aaron ’19.5. It calls for the complete removal of to-go cups and containers from all dining halls in order to reduce waste generated by the college.

A straw poll within the SGA indicated support for the bill, though several senators were concerned with the loss of to-go cups. At this time, no official vote has been taken.

The college currently uses 241,000 non-compostable to-go cups per year and 181,000 containers, all of which end up in landfills. Although the containers are compostable, many are thrown away. Dining services spends about $21,000 each year on to-go cups and lids, as well as $27,000 on containers, and estimates that the proposed program would save them $12,000 in just the first year.

According to the proposed bill, the disposable containers would be replaced by reusable containers that students could check out. Each student would have to put down a deposit on a carabiner that would function as a token, which could be exchanged for a to-go box at the dining halls. When the box is returned, the student would be given another token to get a new box in the future. Dining services would then clean the containers for students. Students would be expected to provide their own travel thermoses if they wanted to take away hot drinks.

Students would pay five dollars at any campus retail location to get their first carabiners, which they could exchange for their five dollar deposits at any time. These deposits would be applied to their declining balances. If a student lost their carabiner or reusable container, they would have to pay another $5 to get a new carabiner.

The new containers cost the college $6,995 or $3.50 per container. The college also plans to purchase 2,000 carabiners, costing $1.15 each.

Sophomore Senator Jack Goldfield ’20 and others voiced opposition to the initial five dollar buy-in. Other concerns included the ease of use of the new system and the availability and cleanliness of containers.

A pilot period for the to-go boxes occurred during December and one of the complaints of the otherwise-successful program was that the boxes were too big. “It would be too difficult from an operational standpoint to have multiple containers,” said Dan Detora, head of dining. He also said that other colleges with similar reusable to-go container systems use only one container size.

Detora indicated that disposable silverware would stay. Disposable to-go cups will also still be available at the non-dining hall food locations campus, such as Wilson Café, but discounts will be offered for those students who bring reusable mugs to be filled there. Some locations, including Wilson and Crossroads, already offer discounts for reusable mugs, which would be advertised as part of the new program since many students are not aware of the discounts.

A clause in the bill stipulates that travel mugs and water bottles be made available for purchase at wholesale prices at college retail locations and that students receiving financial aid will receive funds to cover these additional costs.