Deerfield has an active Sustainability Committee made up of residents who are very influential and passionate about changing practices that endanger our environment. Their purpose is to heighten awareness about the growing amount of Styrofoam, paper, and other non-recyclable take-out containers going into landfills – and the cost associated with using disposables. The committee teamed up with the Resident Dining Committee to drive the issue of recycling and thought of solutions surrounding take-out boxes.
“The growing data surrounding landfill use and costs for Styrofoam and other paper containers became a big topic of conversation to the point where the committees said, ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this,’” Adam Lamb, Director of Dining Services explained.
Inspired by Other Sustainability Programs
The committees and Deerfield’s dining team were inspired by a city-wide initiative in Durham, NC, called GreenToGo, one of several sustainability and waste prevention initiatives overseen by Don’t Waste Durham. The program partners with local restaurants to offer reusable to-go containers that can be used by its members in place of foam containers. Working with their Resident Dining Committee – supported by data driven by their Resident Sustainability Committee — Deerfield rolled out a new system for using reusable containers earlier this month.
“After analyzing the numbers – 500+ meals a day in disposables — and going through our due diligence to determine if it was a safe and wise investment, we purchased the reusable containers (microwavable and freezer-proof),” Adam said. “With transitioning into the new system, we have made the return process very convenient – with return receptacles on every floor.”
A “Personal Responsibility” Approach
We’ve had great success with the reusable container system so far. “With the help of residents on our Sustainability and Dining committees, we took a ‘personal responsibility’ approach and encouraged residents to be in partnership with us,” Adam said. “We explained, ‘Please understand that we have a limited supply of (the reusable containers) and the whole system is predicated on you returning them in a timely fashion.’ Our residents are so thrilled that we have come up with this solution and are on board with returning the containers because they know they are helping control costs and doing their part to save the environment.” Adam attributes the success of their new operating system to residents educating each other and talking up the message of how Styrofoam and paper usage is expensive and affects our environment. They also reassure residents of proper sanitation procedures of containers.