Reusable to-go boxes to improve sustainability

Jamie Williams

The new reusable take-out container program at Fresh Food Company aims to reduce WKU’s environmental footprint while giving customers a better to-go experience.

The WKU Office of Sustainability, the WKU Restaurant Group and the Student Government Association’s sustainability committee have been working to reduce wasteful packaging in dining services. Fresh’s styrofoam containers are a large source of waste, as styrofoam is difficult to recycle.

“Our goal is to eventually just get rid of the styrofoam –– the disposable containers –– which can’t be recycled on our campus,” Christian Ryan, the Office of Sustainability coordinator, said.

The new to-go containers will be available at Fresh for a fee of $5 for one academic year. After you take-out and enjoy your meal, you rinse the container and return it to Fresh. There, you will receive a new container or a keychain tag to keep until the next time you want a take-out box.

“It’s a good thing to do if you want to reduce your environmental footprint, and you carry food out; this is a really easy way to do it,” Ryan said. “It actually couldn’t be any easier.”

The containers are microwave and dishwasher safe, and they are sturdier than the styrofoam containers. Savannah Molyneaux, chair of SGA’s sustainability committee, said that the reusable container is well-worth the $5 fee.

“They’re very sturdy, they hold a lot of food, and they don’t spill over like the styrofoam ones,” Molyneaux said. “Even if sustainability isn’t something a person knows a whole lot about or is passionate about, they just work better and are more functional than the styrofoam ones.”

The program started with 150 available containers, and almost all of them are now in circulation. Molyneaux and Ryan hope that in the future, Fresh will move to using only green to-go containers and get rid of styrofoam completely. WKU’s sustainability efforts also hope to work with the Restaurant Group to reduce the use of plastic bags, implement reusable cups and allow for the green to-go container to be used at multiple dining locations.

Alexis Corbin, the Office of Sustainability’s student ambassador, hopes that this initiative will not only be better in terms of helping the environment, but also in terms of making WKU a better school.

“I think we have great potential to make something like this happen and to show that going red is really going green,” Corbin said.

Reporter Jamie Williams can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].