The University of Connecticut’s decision to move the dining hall napkin dispensers from the end of every table to wall-mounted dispensers was controversial. Many students complained that napkins were less accessible and were in less convenient locations. Recently, however, the university stated that “the department saved a total of $19,484.14 and purchased 2,316,000 less napkins,” as reported by The Daily Campus.
This large increase in savings and reduction in napkin use demonstrates the wisdom of the university’s decision despite the mild inconvenience it may have caused.
When napkins were placed on the tables, they may have been too accessible. Students often took more napkins than they needed because they within reach while eating. Many napkins went unused, leading to widespread waste. While this may be intuitive, the recent data demonstrates how severe the waste was.
The inconvenience of having to get up and grab napkins from a wall dispenser has made it more likely that students will use napkins only when they really need them. Students were using almost $20,000 worth of paper napkins they did not need, an astonishingly high figure. This small change has brought about impressively high cost savings given the cheap price of napkins.
The benefits are not only budgetary. The university purchased 2,316,000 fewer napkins last year than the previous year, reducing our waste of paper products and the number of napkins sent to landfills. This reduction of paper consumption and garbage output is beneficial for our environment.
If we can reduce our consumption for paper products by cutting out unnecessary and wasteful uses, we should certainly do so. The university’s decision to move the napkin dispensers is more environmentally friendly and has saved money in the process; in hindsight, it appears to be an obvious decision to make.
So even though students may have been unhappy with the move initially, this information should inspire us to be more open to university policies aimed to reduce waste. Yes, students may have to get up and walk a short distance if they need a napkin, but that is a small price to pay for the massive savings in cost and paper consumption that this decision brought about.
The university should seek out other changes that will offer proper incentives for students to reduce waste and use resources more efficiently. If merely changing the location of napkin dispensers has saved us almost $20,000 there may be other minor changes we can make that will yield huge benefits.