Although some waste management programs have been altered to prioritize the safety of everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still many opportunities to engage in sustainable practices. The University continues to maintain its commitment to sustainability despite the many changes occurring both on and off campus.
Dining Services partners with local farms and organizations to provide fresh food. As plant-based diets have a lower carbon footprint than meat-based diets, Dining Services offers a plant-focused approach to menus by including non-meat proteins such as legumes. Those who eat meat have access to high quality, local meats.
Reusable utensils and dishes are not currently offered at dining locations as a safety precaution. However, reusable cutlery are available for purchase at Hillside Market or through Grubhub at the Pit or Douglass and Danforth Dining Halls. For $2.36, each silverware set includes one spoon, knife, and fork which can be stored in the included zipper pouch. Students have the option of using their declining dollars, URos, and usual payment options to purchase these sets. Utilizing reusable silverware sets as an alternative to single-use plastic utensils prevents more waste from entering the landfill.
Dining Services continues to collect pre-consumer compost in efforts to reduce food waste on campus. Since 2011, the University has partnered with Waste Management to collect items like egg shells, fruit peels, and vegetable scraps which are converted to usable soil for surrounding communities. Unfortunately post-consumer food scraps are not currently being collected since reusable plates are not being used and collected back. However this is a temporary disruption which will resume once reusable dishes can be offered again. View this video on the process of how compost collection happens on campus.
Recycling bins are located throughout the University along with posters to ensure waste is sorted properly. As a reminder, the paper bags provided by dining halls, the Pit, and Hillside Market are recyclable and should be placed in paper recycling bins. Doing so creates more space in trash bins and allows the bag to have another life as a recycled paper item. Paper bags can also be kept and reused.
While plastic bags should never be placed in a typical recycling bin set-up, there is a specific collection kiosk located in Wilson Commons Hirst Lounge. Not only can plastic shopping bags be recycled here, but also produce bags, bubble wrap, cereal box liners, and more. For a complete list of acceptable items, download the program flyer here.
The Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program that usually allows students, faculty, and staff to dispose of old sneakers in a sustainable way is currently postponed until further notice. We hope to continue offering this opportunity at the University when the national program resumes.
To recycle household electronics, the 13th annual E-Cycle Day will be held on Friday, October 30th from 6:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in Zone 3 South. E-Cycle Day is a convenient opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and affiliates of the University to safely and sustainably dispose of electronics for free. For more information regarding the event, read our previous Go Green article here. Please note that masks are required and participants must remain seated in their vehicles. We look forward to seeing you then.
Written by Emily Su, Class of 2022
Images by Emily Su, Class of 2022