Soon about 400 students will be walking around with their new “eco-oyster shells”, or reusable to-go boxes, as part of the campus initiative to be more sustainable. The reusable boxes will be much more environmentally friendly than the current Styrofoam boxes that students use.
A leader in this initiative, sophomore Becky White said, “[Styrofoam boxes] create a tremendous amount of waste, everyone can see the trashcan overflowing on sunny days.” St. Mary’s goes through about 600 Styrofoam to-go boxes per day, which adds up to about 132,000 boxes per year.
Other colleges have had success with these programs. Facilities Planner and Sustainability Coordinator Luke Mowbray explained that his undergraduate college, Eckerd College, has had success with reusable boxes. Eckerd is one of 116 schools that also have similar programs.
In regards to St. Mary’s, he said, “We didn’t want to do a full implementation program to start with because we just want to feel things out… we decided to go with a pilot program.” During the Spring semester, students who sign up for the program will have the option to use the oyster shells.
This semester is meant to test how the system of the oyster shells works, and to see if any problems need to be fixed.
The start date of the program was moved back to Feb. 4 because of shipping delays. Students who sign up for the program will be able to pick up their oyster shell at the sustainability table in the Great Room.
Instead of a student renting or owning a single oyster shell, students in the program will also be able to get a token card. This token card can then later be exchanged for an oyster shell.
The card acts as a way to identify who is in the program while also making it possible for a student to not always have to have an oyster shell in possession. Bon Appétit will be responsible for cleaning the oyster shells.
For those who might miss being able to easily dispose of their to-go boxes, Mowbray said, “If you don’t like the idea of using a reusable to-go box container then that’s fine, we are not taking away the option of Styrofoam, we are just adding more options.”
While some might like being able to easily throw out their boxes, one student, first-year Danielle Manos said, “I think carrying around a to-go box will be like carrying around a backpack, not that big of a deal.”
White responded by saying, “I think it’s the kind of thing people can get used to pretty quickly, it’s sort of comparable to the tray-less system where people got used to and then didn’t even notice not using trays.”
White hopes for full implementation by next semester. However the program is still in its trial run. As of this writing, 85 spots are still available for interested students. The program is capping the amount of people at 400 and they already have 315.
Manos said, “This is the only Earth we have, we should treat it well.”