How to be a Sustainable Diner at Fordham

By Diego Lopez (FCRH 2022), Sustainability Committee Member.

I’d like to take a moment to recognize that Fordham dining has made progress of its own towards being more sustainable. Just a few changes they have implemented recently are switching to paper containers from plastic containers at Chopsticks, using sweetener dispensers instead of single use packets in the Marketplace, and implementing policies that allow each student to contribute to a more sustainable future. With that said, here are six things you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your meals on campus.

  1. Reduce meat consumption

The first way students can reduce their environmental impact is by reducing their consumption of meat. The production of meat uses large amount of resources such as land, water, and fossil fuels which means reducing meat consumption can significantly reduce the harm the industry does to the environment. Animals, especially cows, are large contributors to methane emissions and require more resources than other food groups for the same nutritional value. The Marketplace makes this easy with Meatless Mondays and good vegetarian and vegan options. Additionally, both Cosi and Urban Kitchen provide vegan and vegetarian options daily. Urban Kitchen even offers the beyond burger, a vegan burger patty that contains more protein than beef patties. Reducing meat consumption is the easiest way for you to help the environment. Reduction can also have a large impact– according to the Environmental Defense fund, “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains…the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.”

2.  Reduce waste by bringing your own reusable coffee mugs

Every establishment on campus allows you to bring your own cup or mug for coffee. This reduces the waste created each time you buy a cup of coffee. Starbucks will even give you 10 cents off each order when you use a reusable mug. You can buy coffee mugs from the bookstore or for $2 from Starbucks on campus. Using the Starbucks incentive, it would only take 20 purchases of a drink before the container pays for itself.

3.  Reduce plastic by bringing your own reusable straw and utensils

With each smoothie or soda, a single use plastic straw could be replaced by a reusable metal straw and reduce plastic waste on campus. These straws can easily be washed with a pipe cleaner and soap after each use and be stored in your backpack for whenever you need it. At eating establishments besides the Marketplace, bringing or using your own reusable utensils reduces the amount of plastic waste created by each meal. While one plastic fork may not seem like much, over the course of a semester and with all the students on campus, each meal quickly adds up to a large amount of waste.

4.  Bring your own container for food

The Marketplace has recently introduced a plastic reusable container that can be used to take food out of the Marketplace or be used at other eating establishments. After using the container, you can take it to the Marketplace to be washed and they will give you a clean container in exchange. These clean containers can then be used at other dining establishments. This container can be purchased for $5 or 5 Dining Dollars at the Marketplace.

Additionally, at Urban Kitchen’s smoothie station you can bring your own reusable container for your smoothie instead of the plastic one they provide. This combined with a reusable straw will significantly reduce the amount of waste created by each meal.

5.  Using your own bags

Even though Pod and Cosi use paper bags now, having no waste is always better than some waste. Remember to bring a reusable bag if you are buying multiple items from Pod or simply put them in your backpack. At Cosi, consider simply carrying the food container or sandwich instead of taking a paper bag if you don’t need it.

6.  Bring your own water bottle or use water fountains

There is truly no need for single use plastic water bottles on campus which creates unnecessary plastic waste. There are water fountains in every building and even water bottle filling stations in many buildings. On campus it is easy to get water from a fountain or bringing your own water bottle instead of buying one when you are thirsty. Reusable water bottles can be easily purchased at the bookstore or online.