WashU Student Initiates and Launches a Greenware Program

Only a few years ago, WashU student Jenny Fang had one primary sustainability mission in mind—to reduce single-use disposable plastic waste while also saving money. Her idea has since manifested itself into the new Greenware Program, a reusable dishware loan program that is now available for WashU students, staff and faculty to use.

The current available inventory includes 100 plates, bowls, cups and utensil sets (forks, spoons and knives). Through an online order form, “checking out” the dining ware is a straightforward process. Upon placing an order, individuals or groups need to meet at the assigned location to pick-up their dishware. After the event is finished, the dishes should be placed in the bags provided and returned to the designated drop-off location. More information about how the program works can be found on the Greenware page on our website.

Fang believes her vision for the Greenware Program is an important transition strategy to becoming a zero waste campus. She hopes the use of single-use disposable dishware will fade out soon as alternatives become available.

“I want the Greenware program to be the go-to option for getting dishware for a campus event”, Fang said. “Plastic takes hundreds to thousands of years to degrade. Knowing this and seeing the amount of single-use disposable dishware tossed at campus events, I wanted to change that. I wanted to make it easy and accessible for people to use reusable dishware, so we can all collectively be part of the solution.”

The Greenware dishes made their first appearance at the Green Carpet Awards on February 4 and were well received by guests and servers alike. The bright green color draws attention to the fact that you are doing something different. Event organizer Cassandra Hage said, “As a certified Green Event that celebrates sustainability leaders and green offices, it was important to us that we led by example. Showing attendees that the Greenware was available, easily accessible, and attractive was a big bonus for using them!”

The program is a partnership between the Office of Sustainability (who will operate the program), WashU Dining Services (who will wash the dishes), and the Student Sustainability Board (who is funding the initial purchase of the supplies).

Student Sustainability Board (SSB) is an operational branch of the Student Environmental Council that allocates funding to student-run projects on campus and strives to make campus events as zero-waste as possible through event greening. This program strongly aligns with SSB’s event greening initiative, which includes consultation and resources for a wide variety of student-led events, including ThurtenE, Shabbat dinners at Hillel and Chabad, as well as small group meetings. 

Another service provided by the Student Sustainability Board is the ability to request free compostable plates and cutlery for on-campus student-run events. For events that are not well suited for the Greeware Program (large events of over 100 people or for events with an open footprint), compostable service ware can supplement or replace the Greenware program. Students seeking more information on funding proposals for sustainability projects or seeking event greening consultation should visit the SSB website or direct questions to ssb@su.wustl.edu.

This article was written by Selaam Dollisso, Communication Associate with the Office of Sustainability.