Eco-friendly to-go option off to a slow start in dining halls

NYU Dining has begun offering reusable to-go boxes to become more environmentally friendly.

Contain your excitement, because takeout at NYU dining halls is now friendly — eco-friendly that is. NYU Dining issued an email on Saturday announcing reusable takeout boxes would be available starting Monday at Weinstein, Hayden and Third North dining halls to reduce the amount of landfill waste.

Ann Marie Powell, NYU’s director of dining services, said said the university hopes this initiative will create a positive environmental impact.

“It is our intent that we can reduce this waste by hundreds if not thousands of pounds per year,” Powell said. “Our hope is that this program flourishes and grows over time.”

This eco-friendly development parallels New York City’s attempt to ban styrofoam containers, which are an environmental hazard. Rather than disappearing, styrofoam products only disintegrate into minute pieces.

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Ishanee Parikh, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, told The New York Times the city disagreed with the recent court ruling that foam food containers cannot be banned.

“These products cause real environmental harm, and we need to be able to prevent nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from entering our landfills, streets and waterways,” Parikh said.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg originally proposed this initiative two years ago, but it was struck down by a judge in September.

Powell said there were many factors involved in making this decision. In addition to being eco-friendly, she said it was in the best interest of the students. The containers can be purchased with Campus Cash, Dining Dollars, cash or credit cards.

However, dining services’ solution might not be that convenient for students. LS freshman Shane Olkowski said this initiative may be too much of a reach to get students involved.

“The eco-friendly people would like it, but we’re in college, and times are tough with money,” Olkowski said. “I just don’t think people will spend five dollars on a reusable box when the other ones are still offered.”

Olkowski said he thought it would have been more effective had the containers been introduced at the school year’s beginning, though he understands why they are starting this program.

The restrictive dining hall usability also deterred other students from joining the program, like CAS freshman Sasha Daich, who said the containers were not usable at his favorite dining hall. Daich said he was surprised to hear the university did not implement similar options sooner because of NYU’s progressive history.

“I really want to use it at Palladium,” said Daich, “When I go to the grill, I can be responsible with the environment by using a reusable box.”

Despite NYU Dining expecting participation to rise, there are no participants yet. Powell also understands the restrictions and said that this program is designed to evolve. She said NYU Dining is also looking into reusable cups to pair with these containers, but recognizes that this should not be instigated all at once.

“We must first ensure the success of the program in its initial phase through this gradual implementation,” Powell said.

Email Diamond Naga Siu at [email protected]

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