Marshall University dining: "Hold the trays, please"

If you’ve spent any time looking at the marketing for educational institutions lately, you’ve likely noticed that many schools are working hard to build reputations as “green colleges.” In addition to building green, cutting energy use, and landscaping with water consumption in mind, many colleges and universities are implementing sustainability policies for their food services. Some are composting food wastes. Others are buying locally and organically. A few are even growing their own food.

At West Virginia’s Marshall University, moving towards a greener cafeteria involves… taking away the trays.

This may seem like a very minor change, but this experiment (which started yesterday, and runs through tomorrow) is premised on reducing food, energy, and water waste. University sustainability manager Margie Phillips told television station WTRF

…when a student uses a tray, he or she walks around the cafeteria, putting food on the tray until space runs out… If they don’t use trays, they make their selections more carefully and are generally more satisfied with their choices, which results in less food waste. No trays mean dishwashers have fewer dishes to wash, and that saves on water and energy.

We’ll be interested to see how the results of this experiment turn out… may be hard to gauge well with just a few days worth of data, but this is a really simple step that could have multiple positive impacts.

Know of other efforts along these lines on college campuses? Let us know in the comments…

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