University of Calgary

Eat, drink, and waste less! Sustainable dining options at the university

UToday HomeMarch 1, 2013

By Amy Glassman

Eco Club executive Emily McPhail with her reusable plate. Students, staff and faculty can save money by purchasing food on reusable serving ware through the Eco-Card program.Eco Club executive Emily McPhail with her reusable plate. Students, staff and faculty can save money by purchasing food on reusable serving ware through the Eco-Card program.From waste-free dining options to ethically sourced products, the campus community can access a number of different services that contribute to an environmentally friendly, socially responsible and healthy food system.

Most food vendors on campus now provide compostable cutlery in addition to the compostable clamshells introduced last year.

Serving ware and cutlery are not the only things that are compostable; all food scraps, wooden chopsticks, and napkins can also be placed in the organics bins located throughout campus. Coffee cups from select vendors such as Good Earth and Rosters can also be composted (look for fine print on the cup indicating so).

Still need help sorting out recycling, compost and landfill products? Compost Educators can be found in the MacEwan Student Centre helping diners sort their waste into the appropriate bins on Monday and Friday afternoons from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Go one step further and use reusable serving ware instead of disposable ones. If every person on campus used a reusable mug, 48 million disposable cups could be diverted from the landfill over the course of a four-year degree. Many vendors on campus offer discounts to those who purchase with a reusable mug.

At the Dining Centre, students, staff and faculty can sign up for the Eco-Card program and receive every 10th meal free after purchasing nine meals on reusable serving ware. For a small $5 fee, diners can also join the eco-container exchange program. Members receive a reusable takeout container which the Dining Centre exchanges for a clean, sanitized one after every meal, so you’ll never have to wash it yourself.

Sustainable dining is not just about waste reduction. Many vendors provide Fair Trade chocolate and other items in addition to tea and coffee. Over the past three years, the student club Engineers Without Borders has been working to promote fair, ethical and sustainable purchasing decisions.

“Engineers Without Borders has been working in collaboration with campus administration, the Students’ Union, Faculty of Arts, and the Office of Sustainability to make the University of Calgary the fourth Fair Trade campus in Canada,” says Julia Milner, Fair Trade campus co-ordinator with Engineers Without Borders.

Availability of Fair Trade products will be one of the sustainable dining options featured in the Dining Centre from March 4 through March 31. Volunteers will also be promoting waste-free eating, environmentally friendly dining options and other ways to live sustainably on campus.

For more information on sustainable dining on campus visit:

For more stories on how students, staff and faculty are stepping up together to turn SustainabilityON or to learn how you can become involved, visit:


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