NU promotes eco-friendly dining

Caroline Dzeba

For students seeking an easy way to reduce their carbon footprints this Earth Day, nuCuisine will be offering the lunch option of made-to-order peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at residential dining halls. For each sandwich that replaces an animal-based lunch, such as a hamburger, students will save approximately 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

The promotion of environmentally friendly dining doesn’t end with Earth Day. NuGreen, nuCuisine’s green dining initiative, has taken significant steps to decrease food and paper waste at NU dining locations.

In Fall Quarter 2008, NU dining services installed water filters in the dining halls in an effort to encourage students to reuse water bottles. It also began an effort to reduce plastic bag use at campus convenience stores by offering customers the option of buying a reusable bag instead. For each bag purchased, $1 goes to the Campus Kitchens Project, an outreach program that packages and delivers unused dining hall food to Evanston’s needy.

Even so, NU is still lagging behind many of its peer institutions in its overall promotion of environmentally friendly practices. In the Princeton Review’s evaluation of 534 colleges and universities on its Web site, schools like Harvard and Yale were among the 11 schools that received “Green Rating Honor Roll” status, while NU did not make the list.

Students have begun to take notice of some of the new initiatives, such as the tray-free dining policy at Elder Hall and Willard Residential College, introduced in an effort to reduce food and energy waste.

Amer Karim, who often eats at Elder, said he sees the university’s efforts as a step in the right direction.

“Little things like trying not to take too much food (with tray-free dining) help,” the McCormick freshman said.

Weinberg freshman Sarah Reibstein, who also eats at Elder, agreed.

“I never take a tray – I think it’s definitely unnecessary,” she said.

Claire Christenson said she has noticed the subtle changes in the campus dining halls but thinks the initiative needs more force to be truly effective.

“If (eco-friendly) dining is something the university is actively trying to pursue, then they should advertise it a bit more,” she said.

Karim said he would also like to see more forthright efforts by the university.

“(Dining services) at least puts eco-friendly dining in everyone’s minds, but maybe they could be doing more active projects,” he said.

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