Courtyard Café to make Green2Go mandatory

by Grayce Gibbs | 2/5/19 3:10am

The last disposable to-go container “walked out” of the Courtyard Café on Feb. 3. 

Starting Monday, anyone ordering something to-go at the Courtyard Café grill station will be required to buy a reusable Green2Go container. For those eating in, paper plates will still be available. The permanent switch to Green2Go is expected to reduce waste in the Courtyard Café by seven tons per year. 

Anyone ordering take-out from the grill will be given their food in a Green2Go container. At the register, they will either hand in the Green2Go carabiner — the same ones used in the Class of 1953 Commons ­— trade in a used container or buy into the program by paying for the reusable container. 

Abby Bresler ’21, Meriem Fouad ’21 and Samantha Newman ’22 spearheaded the initiative to bring Green2Go to the Courtyard Café. Green2Go was first in initiated in ’53 Commons in 2017, and the program expanded to the Courtyard Café last spring. Fouad said Dartmouth Dining Services waited two terms before making it mandatory in order to give students time to get used to the containers. 

The containers in the Courtyard Café are smaller than the ones used in the ’53 Commons, though the two types of containers can be exchanged for a clean container or a carabiner at either location. Students can also return Green2Go containers to Collis Café or Novack Café.

DDS currently has 5,400 total containers, which they sell to students at a break-even price of $4 each. Assuming every container gets sold, the program should be cost-neutral. According to Plodzik, there are “some savings involved” with the switch to Green2Go. 

Plodzik said that before the reusable containers were instituted in ’53 Commons, DDS went through 400 to 500 non-reusable to-go containers a day, with each container costing up to 25 cents. 

“Any money that we’ve saved in packaging is good for the department and good for the program because it gives me more money to pump into food and events,” Plodzik said. 

Bresler, Fouad and Newman said they worked closely with DDS to bring Green2Go to the Courtyard Café. Bresler and Fouad began working with DDS in January 2018 and have been meeting weekly with DDS employees. 

“We went into the first meeting not sure how on board they would be with the idea of an expansion so soon after rolling out the original one in [’53 Commons], but they brought it up first,” Bresler said.  

Plodzik said that DDS’s role is to be good recipients of student feedback. 

“I see my role as trying to use [students’] money as wisely as possible to create the best program possible,” Plodzik said. “Sustainability is one of the core components of a great program. We’ve tried to think about how we can operationalize their ideas.” 

According to Fouad, initial student reactions to the compulsory use of Green2Go containers at the Courtyard Café grill have been mixed. Some students have been very receptive and excited about the change, whereas others are unsure and confused, she said.

In order to help students better understand the program, the Green2Go team spent three evenings tabling at the Courtyard Café and Novack. 

“We’ve had a few people be like, ‘Oh thank God I’m leaving next semester,’” said Sophia Greszczuk ’22, one of the volunteers at the table outside the Courtyard Café. “Having to remember to return the container and bring the carabiner is a little harder than just throwing it out, but I think most people understand that we can’t just keep consuming plastic like we do.”  

Although Green2Go has seen some success at ’53 Commons, the program has run into issues with students not returning their containers.

“What we’ve discovered over the last year and a half of doing this is that these containers are very high in demand and they don’t always come back to us,” Plodzik said. 

He added that because the price is so low, the containers almost become disposable because the cost is not enough to make people want to return it.

“If you don’t have a container, oftentimes you’ll just buy another,” Plodzik said. 

In order to incentivize more people to return their containers, the Courtyard Café offered a free drink in exchange for handing in a Green2Go container last week. 

“One of the challenges and potential dangers at the Courtyard Café is if people keep the smaller containers and don’t return them, [then] this Green2Go program might go quicker than we think,” Plodzik said. 

As employees at the Courtyard Café grill are unable to use a permanent marker to write orders on the Green2Go containers, DDS had to figure out how orders would be taken so that the cashier can accurately ring students up.

Not wanting to use pieces of paper, DDS purchased semi-erasable markers that will come off in the dishwasher, according to Plodzik. 

Bresler and Fouad said they are now looking at how to improve the waste situation in other dining locations on campus like Collis and Novack.