Stonehill College celebrates victory in waste reduction with reusable containers
In spring 2018, Stonehill College embarked on revitalizing its reusable to go container program due mostly to the overwhelming use of disposable to go containers by students eating in dining halls. An initial student survey revealed the rationale behind the excessive use and a pilot conducted in March was beneficial in gaining insight into student challenges as well as suggestions for a successful transition to reusable to go containers.
Re-branded, the GREEN 2GO reusable container program is overseen by the Waste Reduction Committee of Stonehill College’s Environmental Stewardship Council (ESC), which is comprised of a broad representation of college stakeholders including administration, facilities, finance, energy, farm, dining, residential life, faculty, and, student representatives from various student groups. Waste Management’s Total Recycle Program Manager (TRP), Michelle Lee Guiney, joined the council two years ago and serves on its Waste Reduction Committee to advance various TRP waste reduction campus programs.
Waste Reduction Committee members solicited many departments and student organizations to assist with all phases of GREEN 2GO. From marketing and social media, to outreach and education, a comprehensive campaign ensued in preparation for the 2018 fall semester rollout of GREEN 2GO. The committee also tackled strategic placement of collection bins and associated logistics while, vital to the entire process, Sodexo Dining Services successfully managed the container exchange process with students at dining halls.
Via incessant vigilance and diligence throughout the semester, the Waste Reduction Committee far exceeded its goals for GREEN 2GO. Stonehill College proudly achieved a 77% reduction in the procurement of disposable to go containers. This equated to nearly 62,000 fewer single use containers landfilled, a procurement savings of approximately $24,000. Additionally, the reduction in disposable containers contributed to the decrease in trash at dining services – over 10 tons less trash compared to the 2017 fall semester.
Anecdotally, students have expressed extreme enthusiasm for the GREEN 2GO program and for Stonehill College being more sustainable. They indicated that carrying around the reusable container is becoming normalized, especially evident throughout the dining hall. In support of both the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and the Catholic Climate Covenant, Stonehill College celebrates a significant victory in waste reduction and reuse.