Contest hopes to make SunDial more green

Becky Tener and Becky Tener

WANTED: Students who are eating green, thinking of the environment and hoping to get ‘Caught Green Handed.’ ‘Caught Green Handed: the green dining initiative’ is a new program and contest to help make the SunDial dining hall more environmentally friendly, the University Sustainability Coordinator Nick Hennessy said. The initiative is also meant to help students learn what they can do to be more environmentally aware in their everyday lives, he said. It is Hennessy’s job to investigate possible cost savings solutions for the University, how to make those alternatives green, and how to get as many students as possible involved in green projects. ‘We asked what are some different things we can do in the dining center to be more environmentally friendly and save money,’ he said.’ Hennessy said he decided to take simple ways to save money and the environment and test them in the Sundial to see what effects they would have. ‘Caught Green Handed’ then became a contest where students who are caught making greener choices can be rewarded. Hennessy said a few students will be chosen every week and will win prizes like green water bottles and dining discount coupons. The initiative began Feb. 17, and students will also be able to take part in a green dinner March 17. ‘It gives students incentives to do green things,’ he said. Grad assistance for Residence Life, Danielle Page, has also been working on the initiative. She said if students want to be ‘Caught Green Handed’ there are a many things they can do during their meals to be more environmentally friendly.’ Using reusable water bottles, being mindful of food waste, using glasses instead of paper cups, not taking too many napkins and recycling plastic like pop bottles and yogurt containers are just a few things Page said can make a huge difference. ‘Sustainability is kind of a trendy thing right now’hellip; it will eventually become more of a culture,’ she said. ‘Even one individual can make a huge impact and that can inspire the student population as a whole to be mindful of being green.’ Senior Danielle Dever said when she eats on campus she usually brings a water bottle and she tries to use real silverware and plates. ‘I think it’s important to really take advantage of what’s offered,’ she said. ‘We could save a lot of paper if they only offered real plates and cups.’ Another aspect of green dining is not getting food to go. Page said if students stay and eat they’re not getting the to-go containers that are non-recyclable, but also said staying promotes community and saves money. Being green goes beyond just the benefits of helping the environment; it helps the University financially. Page said the Sundial spends $4,300 a week on to-go containers. ‘That’s over $200,000 an academic year that is being thrown into a landfill and can’t be recycled,’ she said.’ ‘ The initiative is also working on some greener things the Sundial can do behind the scenes in the kitchen, Hennessy said, like having recycling bins for plastics and steel cans. The Sundial will be offering organic options to support the local economy and fresher choices, he said. They will also be offering a service to collect plates and silverware that has been taken from the dining hall by using busing trays in the lobbies of Kreischer and Harshman. ‘We want to make the silverware and [plates] available to people, but Dining Services has problems with those things going missing,’ he said. Hennessy said in the fall $1,400 on silverware alone was stolen from the Sundial.’ ‘We really want to make a push for people to not take the stuff but also for the [dining ware] that has been taken that they can return it no questions asked,’ he said.’ The purpose of the initiative is to educate students on what they can do to save money and help the environment, Hennessy said.’ ‘If students are learning about it and maybe taking those behaviors to different locations, their homes or other places, then it’s going to continue,’ he said. ‘Caught Green Handed: the green dining initiative,’ will run through the week after Spring Break with opportunities for students to be caught in the act of eating environmentally friendly.