Team Green Sustainability Forum: Starting the Conversation

On October 25th Dining and Facilities Team Green held their first Sustainability Forum on campus. The forum was sponsored by the Dining Services Department and the University Council on Sustainability. The forum had representatives from both Team Green’s as well as Cam Schauf, Director of Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations, Co-Chair, University Council on Sustainability, and Tim Vann, a representative from Utility and Energy Management Services.

The Sustainability Forum begun with giving a general overview of existing programs on campus including the reusable clamshell program, reusable mugs, local food, and the recent grant received by the university to install solar panels on top of Goergen Athletic Center. Following the brief overview, the forum was opened up for discussion and a Q&A session.

Here are some of the questions and concerns that were brought up during the Sustainability Forum!

1. Sometimes when I try to use my reusable mug in Starbucks, the staff don’t apply a discount.

Dining Services will fill your refillable mug with coffee or tea for $1.39 at all of their cafés.. As an added bonus, if you use a reusable mug rewards card 10 times, you can turn it in for a free pastry. If you do not receive the proper discount, simply remind the staff member that refills are $1.39. We are constantly hiring students across our café locations and sometimes it’s hard for them to remember everything when they first start. Thankfully, all of our locations have a “refill” button that’s used when someone is using a reusable mug for coffee or tea. If you remind the cashier and they’re confused you can always tell them to push the “refill” button. If you ever have questions or concerns like this it’s helpful to bring it to the attention of Cam Schauf or one of the managers on sight so it can be reinforced with staff members.

2. Are there still plastic bags in the Pit?

Starting this semester dining has begun placing single use bags below the counters and making them less visible around campus to discourage use. You can still get a bag but you will now have to ask a cashier for one. When you ask for a bag you will always be asked if you want paper or plastic. If you use a reusable bag in Hillside you can get a 5% discount!

3. For the reusable bag discount in Hillside, how do you define a reusable bag? Is a paper bag a reusable bag?



Hillside counts any bag that can be reused as a reusable bag except for backpacks. This includes any paper bags you may bring yourself to reuse.

The reason that backpacks are not considered reusable bags in the discount is because many students already carry backpacks around with them. The goal of the discount is to try to get students to change their behaviors and reinforce those positive behaviors. Rather than rewarding people for something they already do, like carry a backpack, we want to motivate students to be mentally aware of bringing a reusable bag when they need one and participating in sustainable behaviors.

4. Does the University of Rochester have a contract about the number of disposable items they need to buy each year? For example, do we have to use a certain amount of plastic bags per year that we need to buy?



The simple answer is no. Currently, dining is not actively buying plastic bags anymore. Dining is only working through our remaining inventory, which is quite large. Once dining runs out of plastic bags, they will conduct a cost-benefit analysis to decide if they want to stop buying plastic bags all together and switch to paper bags entirely.

5. Do we have more sustainable option for cups, lids, and straws?



We always encourage students to bring reusables to eliminate the need for single use options. Dining has been looking into data to see what it would look like if they switched to the Starbucks straw-free sip lid. They plan to implement that solution in Starbucks and will potentially expand it to other cafés on campus.

Do you want to know more of the awesome programs our school has? Check the full Sustainability Forum live stream on our Facebook page!

Thank you to our Dining Team Green Members, Patricia Hanna, Nic Hesse, Sophia McRae, Nicole Franki, Elissa Moy, and Phoebe Konecky, and our Facilities Team Green members, Kelly Jean and Isabel Lieberman, who presented and helped answer questions.

A special thanks to Cam Schauf and Tim Vann for attending the Sustainability Forum to help answer students questions and take feedback.


Go green with Dining Team Green! Want more information on sustainability in dining? Follow us on ​Facebook​, ​Instagram​, and​Twitter​ ​@ursustainibble. Contact us at​. We’d love to hear from you!

Guest Post Written by Alice Wang, Class of 2020, Dining Team Green Sustainability Intern