New to-go boxes offer students greener alternatives for dining

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Diners on campus now have more environmentally friendly options when taking food to-go from the cafeterias which is a part of a university initiative to encourage sustainable behavior on campus. 

This year, Ragsdale diners may have noticed an alternative option to the typical to-go box. Green plastic boxes referred to as ‘clamshells’ have started circulating. The clamshells, which come in several different sizes, are a part of the new program that Bon Appétit started this year to continue a tradition of sustainability.

“What makes them green? You can use them forever and it cuts down on waste. They are also 100 percent BPA free plastic, safe in the dishwasher and in the microwave,” said Michael Smith, general manager for Bon Appétit.

Although the new to-go box program, which includes compostable boxes as well, just started this year, Smith said that 120 green to-go boxes have already been sold. Smith said that more faculty than students seem to be buying the boxes, which sell for $6. Smith indicated that this may be because faculty are more aware of issues relating to waste and being green.

Currently, the clamshells are only being used in the Ragsdale cafeteria, but the program may expand to other dining halls in the future. 

An average of 60 people per day use the compostable containers and end up eating in the dining hall, according to Smith. Smith’s goal is to reduce the number of people who use compostable to-go boxes by motivating them to use the green boxes or the normal dining plates in order to cut back on waste.

“I got the alternative green to-go box because it is better than the compostable box. It helps the environment because we waste less when we use these,” freshman Amanda Madrigal said.

Madrigal, an environmental science and policy major, said her courses have motivated her to partake in a greener lifestyle and have taught her the effects people have on the world when they waste.

Students for Sustainability (SFS) has also been doing their part to help keep Earth green. SFS is an organization that works with students and administrators to make the university more sustainable and environmentally aware.

“The easiest way to get involved is to do what you can,” senior Ashley Shaw, garden coordinator for SFS, said. “Since most of us are constantly using technology and electricity, it might be easiest to start there. Also, recycling. It is really not that difficult to recycle, and the more of us that do it the easier it will become.” 

SFS meetings are Tuesdays at 6:30 in Moody Hall 306. Shaw emphasizes that anyone can and should join in as their work load allows. 

SFS partakes in programs such as the Green Fund, Green Ambassadors, the on-campus garden and Hope Farmer’s Market. SFS also encourages students to participate in local movements such as community gardening through Food Is Free.

Cristina Bordin, sustainability coordinator for the university, said an easy way to get involved in the green movement is to follow some of the weekly sustainability tips released in the Student E-news emails.

“The best thing a person can do is be aware,” Shaw said.