An Update on Goodrich’s Sustainability Efforts: Progress, Challenges, and a Plea for the Return of Reusables

At Goodrich, we serve an average of 400-500 students per day, which means over 400-500 plates, knives, cups, and lids could end up in the landfill daily. We are constantly trying to minimize that amount. But I won’t lie to you, it’s hard. We’ve tried implementing new projects that have failed, like getting rid of the cup that your cream cheese comes in (unfortunately with 5 varieties of cream cheese and limited counter space, it’s just not feasible). And, we’ve implemented other projects that have been successful, which I will highlight in this post. 

Three Goodrich Baristas stand smiling and holding the earth day menu boardTo start off, I want to thank the Zilkha Center for supporting us in the addition of our new dishwasher last year. This was a catalyst for improved sustainability at Goodrich. We are now able to provide reusable mugs, cups, and plates. Most recently, we have transitioned to reusable cutlery. That’s not to say there is no additional burden on the Coffee Bar – it adds extra time to the closing shift for baristas to clean each utensil before heading to the sanitizer. One of our biggest struggles with this reusable ware is maintaining it. When people take our things, it minimizes the amount in circulation, meaning that sometimes people who request reusable items cannot get them because we have simply run out. Please return your mugs/plates/utensils (and take the tape/sticky note off first!!) to make sure we can keep these more sustainable options available at Goodrich.

All of our consumer facing disposables, with the exception of the Naked juices, Chobani, and Gammel Garden skyrs, are compostable, which is good. We have less control over the packaging of items that come from our suppliers, such as the tubs of plain cream cheese and the packaging of our fresh herbs. 

Another unique challenge that we face as a business in the middle of nowhere run by full-time college students is the inaccessibility of resources. I have been historically anti-Amazon in my personal life, but I have found myself caving when Goodrich needs a specialty product quickly that simply cannot be purchased elsewhere online, let alone found locally. Mason jar mug filled with iced matcha is held up in front of a stage with performers blurred in the background

Another project we’ve been working on is making our catering operations more sustainable. This culminated in our least wasteful event to-date: The Climate Connections event hosted by community partners in collaboration with the Zilkha Center. We brought over our mugs and  reusable utensils, put condiments like sugar in mugs, and served all of our drinks in urns. This was a successful minimal waste catering event –but certainly more effort than how our catering operations ran before.

We recently started working with a community member who collects our coffee grounds about three times a week. We put our composting grounds into buckets, which he collects and adds to compost to put in his personal garden, where he grows a large portion of his food. He estimates that we fill about 4 full 5 gallon buckets, or about 100 lbs of grounds a week.  

We are always looking for new ideas, so please reach out to me or any of the other baristas if you have ideas to share. Stay tuned for next year when we debut our punch card – a tactic to incentivize folks to bring in their own cups. (And please return our reusable mugs, plates, and utensils!)

Maya Goldstein ’25 is a barista and the Development and Marketing Manager at the Goodrich Coffee Bar at Williams College.