Casey Goodwin" />
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Thursday, September 21, 2023


To-go containers not working out at UH

Often times, policies implemented in favor of going green produce favorable results.

The University’s new to-go box policy that has been implemented in the Moody Towers and Oberholtzer Hall dining areas, however, is failing miserably.

Made from emerald green plastic (presumably a pun on UH’s eco-friendliness), the containers are supposed to be available to students and staff who want to get food from the cafeterias to take and eat somewhere else.

The process of using the new containers, which are noticeably smaller and harder to squeeze a meal into than the old Styrofoam ones, should be simple.

First, a student requests a to-go meal in the cafeteria and is handed one of the plastic boxes. After filling it up with food, the student leaves the cafeteria and eats wherever he or she wishes. But the last step is the most essential: the student then returns the container to the cafeteria so that it can be used again.

Of course, that seems to be the step students and staff have the hardest time completing.

When the green containers first appeared, students were asked to sign them out. The basics of an organized plan seemed to be present — when a student returned the box they had signed for at one of the designated areas, they would be given a voucher to get a new one.

But that never happened. Anyone who visits the cafeteria and gets food to go is given a container with no questions asked and no vouchers presented.

Many students who live on campus admit to having stacks of containers in their rooms, as there’s no real rush to return them.

It should be no surprise, then, that stacks of the new containers at the cafeteria have dwindled over the first few months of the semester.

As often as not, students who want to get a to-go meal are unable to; the lucky students who do get to use a box may have to wait five to 10 minutes while the Dining Services staff quickly — and often poorly — washes the few containers that were returned.

There is no mystery behind why so many of the containers have disappeared; they’re simply not being returned.

Anyone who orders food to go should be responsible enough to return their container to the nearest C-Store or dining hall when they are done using it. Perhaps they just want to keep the cool, “free” container.

Either way, it’s clear that people at the University can’t be trusted to return their to-go containers and that Dining Services isn’t organized enough to come up with a system to keep track of them.

At the rate the containers are disappearing, there’s no way that replacement costs won’t soon be added into the University’s budget. That, or students won’t be able to get takeout anymore.

Dining Services made a valiant effort to be more environmentally friendly, but its effort has thus far failed. It’s time for them to accept that fact and allow students to be able to count on to-go meals again.

Whether that means implementing some costly system to keep track of the boxes or simply going back to good old-fashioned Styrofoam, something has to be done.

Casey Goodwin is an engineering freshman and may be contacted at [email protected]

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