Courtyard Café's adopts Green2Go containers

by Jacob Chalif | 5/22/18 2:35am

by Michael Lin and Michael Lin / The Dartmouth

The College is taking its sustainability mission one step further — Green2Go, Dartmouth’s program of reusable to-go containers, arrived at the Courtyard Café last Tuesday. The new containers have been received slowly by students, according to Courtyard Café culinary operations manager C. Robert Lester. After the first week of use, only a couple dozen of the containers have been given out.

The Courtyard Café had been going through about 1,000 non-reusable to-go containers a day, according to Dartmouth Dining Services associate director Don Reed.

Class of 1953 Commons manager Jennifer Nakhla said that the goal of the new program is to reduce some of the waste produced by the Courtyard Café.

“I walk by the Green every day and you see the trash cans overflowing with [Courtyard Café] to-go containers,” Nakhla said. “It’s an eyesore. That’s visually how much waste is being produced. If we could cut down on that as much as possible, it would really help make Dartmouth more sustainable.”

Nakhla said that the clearest option was to expand the existing Green2Go program from ’53 Commons to the Courtyard Café.

It would be easy to expand the program because of the existing infrastructure and framework at ’53 Commons, she said, adding that students are already familiar with Green2Go.

DDS ordered 1,200 new Green2Go containers for their expansion to the Courtyard Café, but the slow student reception so far has posed issues for the dining area, according to Lester.

“We had to move the containers to a storage room downstairs because we weren’t going through them fast enough,” he said. “They were blocking an exit door.”

Lester added that the staff and the students who have started to use the Green2Go containers have appreciated the new sustainable option.

“Everyone sees how many containers we go through in a day,” Lester said. “The staff, the cooks, the people behind the counter — they see the new containers and they love it. We’ve had students come through here particularly because they want to use the container. That’s a good sign.”

The new containers are smaller and deeper than those available at ’53 Commons, resembling the to-go “burrito bowls” they aim to replace.

“They are the perfect size for a burger or a Bob,” Reed said.

The development of the new Green2Go program began after ’53 Commons rolled out its Green2Go containers during the summer of 2017. This past winter, a group of students started to imagine what the next step would be.

Kellen Appleton ’20, Abigail Bresler ’21, Meriem Fouad ’21 and Hannah Nash ’17 began meeting with DDS in January to talk about how to debut a Green2Go program at the Courtyard Café. Appleton and Nash are waste interns in the Sustainability Office, while Bresler and Fouad are EcoReps there.

“The current to-go containers are not recyclable, not compostable,” Appleton said. “They’re all landfill. Every year, we go through seven tons of brown to-go containers. And that’s just from the [Courtyard Café].”

The Green2Go containers can be reused 500 times with no loss in quality, so they seemed like the most sustainable choice, Reed said.

“We have this vision of Dartmouth dining be[ing] a virtually zero-waste experience,” Bresler said. “We’ve been meeting with Dartmouth Dining about once a week since early winter term, sometimes twice in one week, to work things out about expanding the Green2Go program.”

Appleton and Bresler both emphasized that DDS has been a driving force for Green2Go’s expansion.

“We’ve been working on this project a lot, but it’s also been spearheaded a lot by [DDS] itself,” Appleton said. “We went in there with this kind of agenda, but it was suggested by them before we could even bring it up. They’ve been pushing this as hard as we have.”

Bresler added that it has been a “team effort.”

The students’ commitment to the project has not been lost on DDS either.

“They really helped us with the logistics of how the program would work,” Nakhla said. “They are actual customers here, so they came to us with the ideas and they were there to help us walk through how the program was going to work from the customer’s perspective.”

Bresler said there are unfortunate rumors that the Green2Go containers are not sanitary. She said that there may be a perception among students that the containers are not sanitary because food has been sitting in them. She noted, however, that this belief is false.

Nakhla said that the Green2Go containers are made for DDS’s industrial dishwashers.

Reed noted that the containers are made out of a number 5 recyclable plastic, which is heavier and more durable than the non-reusable to-go containers ’53 Commons used previously. The Green2Go containers are designed for repeated washing and sanitizing, he said.

If the Courtyard Café’s Green2Go pilot program goes well, Reed said that DDS may start thinking about how to implement the program at Collis Café in the future.

Bresler said she is confident that the program will be received better at the Courtyard Café next year.

“Just like the [members of the Class of 2021] on campus only know Green2Go at [’53 Commons], we’re hoping that the [Class of 2022] won’t know anything else besides Green2Go at the [Courtyard Café],” she said.