Innovation and Personal Commitment Make Eco-Takeouts™ Work at University of Virginia

In previous blog posts (and in one-on-one conversations), we have talked about accountability on the front end of a reusable container program. However, it is just as important to plan for program close-out at the end of the semester.

In a recent blog post, Kendall Singleton, Sustainability Coordinator for UVA Dining Services, provides instructions to students on how to end their participation prior to summer break.

UVA uses the key tag (token) system as the basis for container accountability. At semester’s end, the blog post advises students on how to return rinsed containers and/or key cards, and how to get deposits returned. Specific details about the return process can be found here:

Kendall assessed the Eco-Takeouts™ program with these words: “Our reusable to-go system has worked pretty well so far and I don’t foresee us making any drastic changes to the program in the next year or so. The large majority of the feedback [from program participants] I have received is positive, with students expressing their appreciation for the program.” While Kendall acknowledges that a “good number” of students return neither the key card nor the containers at year-end, many of them are underclassmen and will likely continue their participation in the next year.

Innovation and personal involvement help Eco-Takeouts™ programs work, and UVA’s plan is no exception. In 2010, UVA Dining Services donated Eco-Takeouts™ to a campus sorority house for use in its catering operation. By using Eco-Takeouts™, the sorority house reduced its use of Styrofoam™ for packaging meals served to sorority sisters after regular dining hours. Kendall personally delivered the boxes, and talked to the sorority sisters about the reusable container program’s importance within the overall dining sustainability initiative. She is now working with the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life to explore the possibility of expanding the program to other houses in the Greek community.

For more information about UVA’s reusable container program, visit
Cheers to UVA for using Eco-Takeouts™ as a part of its environmental footprint reduction plan!

About Wilma

As G.E.T.'s Sustainable Products Manager, I have more than 15 years of experience managing quick serve and casual dining restaurant foodservice promotions. And what do I know about sustainability? Well, I read eco research, study best practices, and follow Mom’s example by reusing grocery bags and recycling cans. Like many of you, I am looking for ways to apply environmental research and eco-friendly best practices in our schools, companies, and communities. I'll share what I learn, and pass along some tips-- mine and others-- you can apply to your own "green" goals.
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