As students, we are always on the run; to chemistry at 11, English at 12, volunteering at 1, the list never ends! Sometimes it’s hard to find time to eat! UVA has a solution to this problem, the to-go box program which allows students on the run to grab food from the dining halls and take it with them in a to-go box.
The majority of students who use to go boxes use disposable boxes, which are capped at 2 boxes per day. If every student with a meal plan took out two disposable boxes per day, the amount of waste the University of Virginia produced only from disposable to-go boxes would be unimaginable. That is why the reusable to go box program is the way to go!
All of the main dining halls at UVA (Newcomb, O-Hill, & Runk) have the reusable to go box program in place. To get a reusable to go box, students bring $5 to the dining hall and receive two tags. The tags work as a sort of redeemable certificate for a reusable to go box. If a student wants a reusable to go box, then they will bring in the tag and receive the box to fill with copious amounts of food. After the student has finished with the box, it can be returned to the drop off locations in the dining halls. As a student returns the box, they will receive another tag. No washing involved, no stacks of to go boxes in the trash and no more soggy boxes. So why doesn’t every student participate in the reusable to go box program?
The issue is awareness. Many students don’t even know about the reusable to go box program. The majority of the publicity of this program comes from student promotion. I talked with a current participant of the reusable to go box program, Cory Page about the program and promotion of the program.
“I first learned about the reusable to go box program through a funny post about what you could do with five dollars that an Architecture school student posted.” The post included the things that you could do with $5 and how much more sensible it would be to use that $5 to get the “the box that keeps on giving”.
“I’ve convinced most of my suitemates to try reusable boxes.” Cory said, “But publication of the program is still lacking.” The word of mouth effort is beginning to take effect; the program is growing! As the program is expanding in numbers, sustainable students feel that the program should be expanded to places other than the three dining halls like the N2GO, Fine Arts Café, and the Dumpling Truck. Other ideas for the program are to promote a reusable travel mug program, similar to the reusable to go boxes program.
With the greater recognition and publication of this program, the sustainable community at UVA hopes that more students will start using the program.
“This program is a very useful one for me because I am eating on the run for usually two meals a day.” Cory says, “I think it would be a practical program for all students.”