In an effort to make campus dining more eco-friendly, Stony Brook has begun offering reusable takeout containers in the East and West Side Dining dine-in areas this semester.
To take part in the program, students can make a $5 deposit in exchange for one of the boxes. Students then have the option of keeping the same box and washing it themselves or bringing it to one of the two dining facilities to be washed and exchanged for another box. At the end of the semester, students can return their containers to get their $5 back.
Jerry Pastrana, the director of West Side Dining, said 187 students have taken the reusable containers across both dine-in facilities.
“It starts from one friend, once someone buys one it spreads to other friends. On some days I’ll have ten students take out boxes and on others around two so on an average we give out two to 10 boxes a day,” Pastrana said, adding that the boxes have garnered nothing but positive reactions from the students. “They are very happy to be able to eliminate waste… overall I feel it’s a great win for the students.”
President of the Environmental Club and junior sustainability studies major Condrea Zhuang said she brought up the idea of reusable containers to the Executive Director for the Faculty Student Association, Nadeem Siddiqui, last semester when she and the other members of the Undergraduate Student Government’s sustainability committee met with him.
“I think it mainly rolled out as a pilot program because there was so much pushing from the student body that said ‘hey the plastic waste in terms of campus dining is kind of ridiculous,’” Zhuang said.
Mariana Diaz, who works at the register between 1:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., says students have been hesitant to pay the deposit at West Side Dining. Diaz said she gives away between two and four boxes during her shift.
“I don’t want to put down a $5 deposit at a place I don’t eat often, because I use the retail options and don’t often go to any of the Dine-in locations,” Bhavna Joshi, a junior biology and psychology double major, said. “It is a nice initiative, and I am supportive of it and probably by the end of the semester I will use one.”
For John Tumminello, a freshman biomedical engineering and applied mathematics and statistics double major, taking advantage of the reusable boxes was a no-brainer.
“I use the container because I use takeout boxes pretty often and I thought that having a takeout box that I can microwave and have warm food whenever I want would be really helpful,” Tumminello said. “I keep busy and have to rush to a lot of places so having a takeout box whenever I want is really helpful and also it helps me play my part for the environment.”
Pastrana encouraged more students to get involved in the program.
“If you were to see how much we throw away and you see our dumpsters, those are big items so if there’s a way we can have more people to speak, it would be great,” Pastrana said.