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Green boxes to go

The sustainability efforts of Dining Services and The Maize are becoming more prevalent, but many students may not be entirely mindful of one relatively new program: Green To-Go.

In the spring of 2014, The Maize began offering to its customers Green To-Go containers, which are plastic boxes similar to the paper to-go containers. However, there may be many potential participants who may not have a great understanding of how the program works.

“Currently we have 41 participants with approximately 3,100 campus community members,” Jason Giffey, retail operations manager for The Maize and the Korn Krib, said. This puts participation in the program at about 1.3 percent, which is average compared with other schools using similar programs.

Through the Green To-Go program, participants pay a one-time refundable fee of $5 and in return receive a card, according to the Dining Services website. They redeem this card for a Green To-Go box whenever ordering a meal from The Maize, thus eliminating the need for a less sustainable paper plate or container. This process is repeated at each visit to The Maize.

Students and faculty may also enjoy the relative convenience of returning the to-go boxes. The DS website says they do not even need to be returned on the same day.

“It’s an awesome idea,” senior Ethan Wise, a student manager in The Maize, said.

Wise said that it could be much improved if awareness of this opportunity were raised, as well as the criteria for joining the program.

“One thing that I think would help participation is if people would not only view this has a to-go option, but it can also be used in place of plates for dine in meals,” Giffey said.

Wise suggested Dining Services should charge the five dollars out of all students’ meal plans. That way, everyone would be able to take out a reusable container, making the program much more widely used.

According to the Dining Services website, the Green To-Go containers are much more eco-friendly and energy efficient than the traditional paper containers, which are made from recycled materials. The website says if a Green To-Go container were used 14 times, it would equal the carbon dioxide footprint it takes to produce just one of the compostable paper containers.

The Maize offers three differently sized Green To-Go options. According to Wise, the most popular choice is the soup bowls, especially among faculty. Wise also said the Green To-Go boxes usually get more use during the lunch rush.

According to Giffey, DS administrators are planning a participation drive to be held in The Maize sometime in the near future. “Our goal is to reach 100 participants by 2016,” Giffey said.

This article was submitted by Lauren Pihlaja, contributing writer.

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