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Green To Go: Higher Ed Leads the Way on Landfill Diversion

By Sharon Chen
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Campus dining halls serve millions of students every year, and university students and staff have focused on how to solve the problem of disposing of the food waste generated from feeding such large amounts of people. From upcycling cooking oil to partnering with food banks, higher ed is finding many ways to increase the sustainability of their food operations.

Recently, Penn State Food Services replaced their Styrofoam containers with reusable to-go boxes. The university estimates at by the end of this year, all of their dining halls will be using the environmentally-friendly takeout boxes; in one dining hall alone, this means that almost half a million Styrofoam boxes will be eliminated.

Initiatives like this one, that keep Styrofoam out of our landfills, are also important because they send an important message. Higher ed has significant purchasing power, and by choosing green products campuses can encourage the proliferation of these environmentally-friendly products. Environmentally-friendly campuses send the message that large scale sustainability is achievable. For more information about how higher ed can lead on climate solutions, please join the Path to Positive.

Student Stories: Plant science major helps create sustainable takeout containers

Colleen Pease | Penn State News | February 4, 2016

With the help of Keirstan Kure, Penn State Food Services created the Green2Go container, a reusable takeout box that replaces the need for Styrofoam cartons in campus dining halls.

Kure, a senior plant sciences major with minors in international agriculture and geography, worked as the sustainable food programmatic intern at the Sustainability Institute on campus.

"I was looking for a new project to work on in October 2013 and caught wind of a new, reusable takeout container project that Food Services was working on," she said. "Because the idea was so new, they did not have any students involved and offered me a position to work on the project, not yet named Green2Go."

Kure's duties as an intern consisted of creating a name and brand for the reusable takeout container, putting together marketing materials and promotions, figuring out the logistics of running this type of program, and educating employees and students on how the program would run.

Kure, who hails from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, worked with her partner for the project, Emily Newman, senior environmental resource management majorin the College of Agricultural Sciences to develop the Green2Go brand. The two ran the pilot program in Pollock Dining Commons during the second half of the spring 2014 semester.

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