Dining Services implements GoViv reusable container initiative at Cafe Viv
Reusable containers will now be offered at Frist Campus Center’s Cafe Vivian through the new GoViv program, a collaboration between Dining Services and the Greening Dining club.
To participate in GoViv, customers purchase a $5 token, which can be exchanged for a reusable plastic takeout container when food is ordered. Students can then take the container with them and return it — without having to wash it first — to Cafe Vivian whenever they like, at which point their token will be returned.
Customers also get 25 cents off each Cafe Vivian purchase they make using reusable containers.
According to Executive Director of Dining Services Stu Orefice, the reusable containers cost about $5 per set, and that the utility costs to clean them are minimal since they undergo the same dishwashing cycle as other utensils in Frist.
The idea originated a few years ago when the Frist Gallery began to use reusable containers, but students took them out of the gallery and did not return them, according to Matt Silver ’16, a member of Greening Dining who led the effort to create the new program.
After hearing about this previous project through his work at Greening Dining, Silver did research on similar programs at other schools. He said he discovered that some universities, including Columbia and the University of Vermont, were solving the problem that Frist had encountered by offering tokens, which gave students an incentive to bring the containers back.
Silver said he proposed the idea to Dining Services in January and worked with them over three months to develop the new program.
“They were really excited about it, and they were really helpful,” he said.
Silver said Dining Services was particularly excited to implement the environmentally conscious program at Cafe Vivian, which, according to Dining Services’ website, “offers organic, sustainable and local food in a relaxed environmentally conscious atmosphere.”
“They do a lot of things very well, except for packaging and containers, which were all disposable before this,” Silver said of Cafe Vivian.
Silver, who said he has had an interest in environmental issues for a long time, explained that the program appealed to him because, like other environmental initiatives involving changes to dining practices, it was practical.
“It’s something that is not necessarily easy, but attainable," Silver said. "You can change dining habits pretty easily. You can get some more local food, [and] just change a few containers.”
Though similar programs have had considerable success at other universities, the GoViv program is still in its beginning stages in terms of sales, he said.
According to the Dining Services Facebook page, the program began on March 25, immediately after spring break. During that week, Silver and other members of Greening Dining tabled outside Cafe Viv to promote the program and sell tokens. They offered free tokens to the first 25 people who signed up for the program.
Describing people’s responses to the tabling effort, Silver said, “I think a lot of people were interested. Even if they didn’t necessarily make a purchase, they were considering it and thought it was a good idea.”
Silver said he thinks GoViv has the potential to become as successful as Columbia’s analogous program, which has enrolled about 800 students.
“I think it’s just a matter of exposure, really,” Silver said. “I think, as much as we were promoting it here, I don’t think we were forward enough about it.”
Silver said GoViv was considering asking cashiers to remind customers about the program, putting up additional signs advertising it and potentially partnering with the USG to spread knowledge of and participation in the program.
Students sitting in Cafe Vivian on Tuesday night said they supported the idea of the GoViv program.
“I like the idea especially because I think there aren’t a lot of reuseable options,” Maddy Russell ’16 said. “I would use it, I’m not sure if others would be as interested.”
Martina Fouquet ’16 said she was pleased that the University was being more environmentally conscious through the GoViv initiative.
“I think it’s important to be aware,” she said. “This is one place where they’re being more efficient, so that’s nice to see.”