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Shaw brings back eco-container program, charges additional 50 cents for regular to-go containers

Bon Appétit reinstated their eco-container program in Shaw Dining Hall for Spring semester, an initiative which was discontinued in Fall 2020 as a safety measure during the pandemic, according to a previous Forum article

Participants can opt-in and pay a one-time $7 charge to receive a reusable eco-container, which is then exchanged for a wooden token to obtain the next sanitized container, according to Bon Appétit’s webpage

Nikki Hardinger, Bon Appétit director of dining services, said the eco-container program was implemented in an effort to be more environmentally conscious. Meals ordered to-go in the disposable plastic containers now have a green tax of 50 cents. 

A green tax, or an environmental tax, is imposed on activities that pollute or cause harm to the environment, according to an article by Finance Strategists.

“[The program] was brought back in hopes that students and staff would use something that is environmentally friendly instead of using the plastic to-go boxes that will just sit in a landfill,” Hardinger said.

Prices are also going up for the plastic to-go containers, which makes it harder financially to continue giving them away for free, according to Hardinger.

“With the price of everything going up and up so fast, we had to start charging because we go through hundreds and hundreds of boxes a week,” Hardinger said.

Jess Sweitzer, director of Residence Life, holds her to-go meal in an eco-container as Nicki Hardinger, Bon Appétit director of dining services, restocks a fridge full of drinks in Shaw Dining Hall on Feb. 3. Hardinger said the eco-container program was implemented in an effort to be more environmentally conscious — meals ordered to-go in the disposable plastic containers now have a green tax of 50 cents. Photo courtesy of Rylee Brown. Image description: Two people fill the screen, one wearing a gray jacket while holding a green plastic to-go container filled with food, the other wearing all black and restocking a fridge of drinks.

Hardinger also said it’s known most students get their food to-go and still sit to eat in the dining hall. 

“Most students will get a to-go box and sit and eat in the dining hall,” Hardinger said. “Our hopes are that if you are dining in, folks will make the choice to use a cafe plate to eat on instead of throwing a plastic box in the trash that will just sit in a landfill.”

First-year theater major Charlotte Gordon said she eats at Shaw for at least two of her three meals a day, and said she almost always gets her food to go. 

“Even if I planned to eat at Shaw, I’ll get it to go because I usually have leftovers I want to take home with me,” Gordon said.

Gordon said she is very willing to purchase an eco-container, but said she is concerned about the program’s process.

“I’m kind of a forgetful person sometimes, so I’m worried if I do get an eco-container I’ll forget to bring it back every time to get the token,” Gordon said.

Employees of Bon Appétit are more than happy to answer questions and discuss the eco-container program with anyone, according to Hardinger.

“I am always available to answer any questions one might have,” Hardinger said. “If someone is interested in the eco-container program and you aren’t sure, come and chat with me. I will explain how it works.”

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Rae Falatea is a third-year communication major who also plays shooting guard for the Westminster Women's Basketball team. When she isn’t in class or on the court, she loves to spend time with her family, play games and read. She’s extremely competitive and enjoys trying more new food places than you do.

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