For several years, Zero Waste interns at the Zilkha Center and Goodrich student leaders have been advocating for the installation of a dishwasher in Goodrich Coffee Bar. Goodrich is a heavily trafficked student cafe that serves hundreds of people every day. While Goodrich has historically offered some ceramic mugs for students who would like to have their drinks in-house, it has largely provided single use compostable cups, mainly because of the lack of a dishwasher. In the past, student workers have hand-washed all reusable mugs, which has been challenging to manage behind the bar because it is a small space crowded by many workers who are often managing a long line. Recently, however, thanks to student advocacy, Zero Waste policy, and financial support from the college, a dishwasher was installed in Goodrich! This is a small, yet essential, step towards a Zero Waste campus and this article will explore how the dishwasher was approved for installation and the impact it will have.
I originally became aware of Goodrich’s lack of dishwasher in fall 2019 when I, alongside my co-Zero Waste Intern, Lauren Lynch ‘23 conducted an interview with the student managers at the time. Over the course of that fall, Lauren and I worked with Mike Evans, Associate Director of the Zilkha Center, and the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN), an outside organization that helps campuses move towards Zero Waste, to conduct an assessment of all of Williams’ waste management systems. Dining halls and student eateries are a large area where Williams generates waste, so it was necessary to talk to the students who were helping to run Goodrich. During that interview, it was made clear to us that the largest waste-related issue that student employees were facing was the lack of reusable dishware, particularly mugs.
That spring, as we worked with PLAN to put together a comprehensive report on Williams’ waste systems, a need for a reusable dishware policy was made clear to us. That work was continued the following year by Lauren and Rika Nakato ‘24, another Zero Waste intern, who helped write a policy to implement a reusable dishware program. In their policy, Lauren and Rika drafted a vision for Goodrich where all in-house dishes were reusable in addition to having entirely reusable to-go ware that would be integrated with Dining Services’ collection and washing system. While this vision is incredibly achievable for Williams’ campus, some more tangible steps are needed to get there, specifically, the installation of a dishwasher in Goodrich.
Lauren and Rika began the work of writing a proposal specifically for the purchase and installation of a dishwasher, but it was taken on more extensively by Zilkha Center summer 2021 interns, Simon Kissam ‘23 and Jacob Chen ‘23.5. Part of what Simon and Jacob sought to show in their research and proposal was the environmental benefits of using reusable mugs over single-use compostable cups via a life cycle analysis. They concluded that “reusable cups have a lesser environmental impact than single-use cups as long as you reuse the reusable cups enough times… always within the order of 100.” Simon and Jacob’s LCA was a critical tool to show the necessity of installing a dishwasher in Goodrich from a data based standpoint. They also worked with Goodrich staff to identify the right type of dishwasher needed and to figure out the cost of purchase and implementation.
Jacob and Simon’s work helped give the final push, which Lauren and I took as our charge in the fall of 2021. We worked closely with Goodrich managers Maddie Dyke ‘21.5, Niko John ‘22,and Clare Rogowski ‘21.5 to find a time for installment and to make sure we had updated testimonials about why dishwasher implementation was important and needed from their perspective. Once we refined the many proposals that had been developed over the years, Mike worked with the Planning, Design, and Construction team to get the dishwasher purchase approved. After several rounds of conversation they did and the dishwasher was installed over winter break, 2021!
This marks an important step in reaching the College’s waste goals and is really exciting for all of the different stakeholders who have been involved in getting Goodrich a dishwasher. In response to the good news, Jacob said “That’s amazing… It’s always so great to see our work come to fruition… my reaction is just that I’m really happy that this was able to happen after the hard work of many people, and I hope that, through Goodrich’s example of using reusable mugs, students will be inspired to use reusable mugs at coffee shops while they are home as well as after they graduate from Williams.” Simon additionally emphasized “the continuous nature of this project, from last year’s Zero Waste Interns, to this Summer’s, to now the Fall’s, in addition to the Goodrich student workers themselves”.
Over Winter Study, Lauren and I went with Clare and another Goodrich staff member, Ezra Joffe-Hancock ‘25 to the Bennington Goodwill to buy reusable mugs for the newly installed dishwasher. Today, anyone who goes into Goodrich has access to a plethora of reusable mugs and can enjoy their beverage of choice in reusable ceramic ware!
-Coco Rhum, ’24, Zilkha Center Zero Waste Intern