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Editorial: Reducing waste in Campus Dining

Campus Dining is managed with remarkable skill and efficiency. Even while serving thousands of students, staff and visitors each day, the award-winning residential dining program makes it a priority to offer nutritious and sustainable menus. The retail dining system, meanwhile, provides quality services in a number of easily accessible locations. However, there is still significant room for improvement, specifically in the area of waste reduction. The University could do much in the way of small adjustments to dining operations in order to promote financial and environmental efficiency. To that end, the Editorial Board offers two proposals. First, Campus Dining should gradually reduce the size of plates in the residential dining halls. Second, make the Princeton University water bottles currently sold in Frist Campus Center ineligible for the Late Meal allowance.

The plates currently utilized in the dining halls are generally quite large. While this may appeal to the appetites of a few particularly ravenous students, it is not conducive to an efficient use of resources. People eating in the dining halls will naturally fill their plates with food but, because the plates are excessively large, will usually only eat a portion of their meal. Thus, people consistently take too much food and dispose of the excess. The Board recommends reducing plate size to encourage diners to take less food and thereby reduce waste. In doing so, the University would very easily decrease its financial burdens regarding the purchase of food as well as the disposal of excess waste. Furthermore, the costs associated with a reduction in plate size could be kept at a minimum through careful planning by simply waiting until a regularly scheduled purchase date to introduce a new set of smaller plates rather than discarding all the current plates immediately.

Campus Dining could further reduce waste by removing bottled water from the products covered by the Late Meal allowance in Frist. Presently, the Food Gallery offers Princeton University water bottles as a product covered by the Late Meal credit allowance afforded to all students with a meal plan. Because it is covered by the Late Meal allowance, students have no reason not to purchase bottled water. Indeed, far too many University water bottles are purchased by students seeking to use the entirety of their Late Meal allowance. This allowance was designed to provide an alternative meal time to students with demanding class schedules, but the availability of bottled water during Late Meal only fuels waste and environmental harm. The situation is made worse by the presence of many water fountains and bottle filling stations around campus. Rather than encouraging the student body to utilize these fountains and stations, current retail dining policies simply encourage unnecessary waste. To remedy this problem, the University’s retail dining services should no longer offer bottled waters as a product covered by the Late Meal allowance. In addition, the University should supplement this change by expanding the number of bottle filling stations around campus. There are multiple major buildings without such amenities, notably East Pyne and Robertson Hall, and decreasing this number would incentivize students to use refillable bottles instead of purchasing and discarding numerous University water bottles.

Dining hall tendencies and Late Meal purchases are an important part of the University student’s daily life. In order to improve its efficiency, both in a financial and environmental sense, the University ought to reduce plate size and remove bottled water as a product eligible for a Late Meal swipe. Doing so would also make for a more pleasant dining experience and a more sustainable campus overall. For these reasons, the Board strongly urges the University administration to adopt these proposals.

TheEditorial Boardis an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor and the Editor-In-Chief.