Last summer and fall as campuses across the country were trying to figure out how to operate in continuously changing covid environments, higher ed sustainability message boards were lighting up with staff searching for sustainability solutions that might work on their campuses to address the drastic increase in take-out that stemmed from closed dining halls and quarantining students. The Zilkha Center received a flurry of emails from sustainability staff and interns at other campuses, and after sharing a bit about how Dining Services pivoted during the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021, we decided to put together a case study that could be shared more widely.
Temesgen Araya (Dining) and Mike Evans (Zilkha Center) compiled the case study, which includes information about the containers used, loss rate, and cost of the program. As you’ll see, the program improved in the spring semester with a sizable decrease in lost containers, but it had to be discontinued mid-fall due to staffing challenges that presented a barrier to washing the containers. Those challenges persist and the reusable container program has yet to be restarted.
In addition to sending the case study in response to email requests that we received, we also shared it through the AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) Campus Sustainability Hub, an online resource sharing platform that the Zilkha Center references periodically. We appreciate the sharing and learning that is done through AASHE and their platforms and hope that the lessons learned that we can provide prove to be useful for others.