In a push to reduce the use of non-recyclable Styrofoam and paper cups, plastic silverware, and other disposable containers on campus, Restaurant Associates recently made subtle but important changes that will make Spangler’s dining facilities more environmentally friendly. As you might have noticed, reusable water cups are now available at the Spangler cafeteria and the Grille, and metal silverware and china plates can be found at the Grille where they were previously unavailable. In addition, increased signage promoting the use of non-disposable containers has been put up to raise student awareness about the issue of waste. Finally, the dining services staff has been trained to ask customers whether they want their meal “for here” – in which case the food is served on non-disposables – or “to go”. Although it might take a little while before behaviors are durably altered, David Goldstone campus manager of Restaurant Associates is hopeful that the amount of waste his facilities generate will be reduced significantly.
These changes come within the wider scope of the Harvard Green Campus Initiative, “a University-wide collaborative effort between faculty, administrators, staff and students with the goals of reducing the environmental impacts of campus operations and promoting environmental sustainability”. As a result of the Green Campus Initiative, Harvard University as a whole wants to bring the percentage of wastes it recycles from 38% to 50%. At HBS, a group comprised of the HBS Operations Team, Restaurant Associates, students from the Business and Environment Club – Laura Howard (OC), Emily Bolon (NA), Lionel Bony (NI), Suja Vaidyanathan (NI) – and backed by the Student Association and the Senate, is spearheading the effort. According to Robert Breslow, Director of Administrative Services, while the Business School currently lags other Harvard schools regarding recycling, HBS has made it a priority to become the University’s recycling leader in the next few years.
Thus, in the following months, you can expect these further steps:
* In cooperation with Herbs Disposal, composting will be implemented for food leftovers and paper napkins.
* Several 100% biodegradable products made from vegetable starches are being tested, in order to eventually replace plastic and Styrofoam takeaway containers.
* An initiative aiming at offering a discount to coffee drinkers who use their own, durable mug is currently being studied.
* Receptacles will soon be installed in a central campus location to recover old batteries.
* Communication efforts will be increased in order to raise the awareness and information level of the HBS community.
Reaching the ambitious goal set by Robert Breslow will of course require the collaboration of everyone in the HBS community. For example, in order for the price of a non-disposable plastic cup to break even with that of a Styrofoam disposable cups, it must be used 50 times. Yet, in just three weeks, the inventory of reusable plastic cups has shrunk from 500 to 200, due to loss and theft. So we clearly need to be a little bit more cautious about what we do with these cups…
Five Ways To Help The Environment While at HBS
– Bring your own reusable mug/bottle for coffee/water.
– Order your food on reusable dishes while dining in the HBS Dinning Halls.
– Turn off lights when you leave a room (you might already be doing it at home, but what about at HBS?).
– Shut down your computer if you won’t be using your computer for more than one hour.
– Be vigilant when recycling: garbage can cause the entire content of the recycling bin to be thrown away.