The Student Union's Green Piece Elite Card offers customers a 25-cent discount off purchases at the Union Street Market and One Plate, Two Plate when they use a reusable takeout container, Assistant Retail Manager Kimberly Burns said.
It costs $5 to get the Elite Card discount, but anyone can get a reusable takeout container with their order at the Student Union. The containers, made with 100-percent BPA free polypropylene, can then be left in a drop box in the food court to be sanitized for future use.
“I’m gonna say we sold six of them since last Friday,” Burns said. “It’s exciting, it puts a smile on my face when I’ll see someone asking for their food in the Green Piece.”
Assistant Director of Retail Operations Charles Couture estimated that about 30 students had joined the Elite Card program since the start of the semester. He said at its high point, the Green Piece program had about 80 members before the Student Union’s dishwashers broke down for a year, sidetracking conservation efforts.
“We’re trying right now to get this going again,” Couture said. “You’d think it would be an easy sell these days, but if people don’t want to eat here, they don’t want to take it out of the building.”
Burns said they are looking into getting more drop boxes on campus and have talked to Ecohusky about having students pick up the used containers. Before they put drop boxes in other buildings, though, they want to focus on promoting the program.
Shayna Kamiel, a 7th-semester Human Development and Family Studies major, said she hadn’t heard of the Green Piece program but thought students would be interested in it if there was more publicity.
“They could try putting up signs, putting up fliers,” Kamiel said. “We don’t have to waste so many containers.”
Liana Sandell, an undecided 3rd-semester student, and Taylor Nader, a 5th-semester psychology major, said they also hadn’t heard of the program but would use it in the future.
“There’s so many people here, I see people throwing things away all the time,” Sandell said. “If something like this was in a plastic container it’d be so much better.”
Courture said the Green Piece program will be updating their advertisements and familiarizing staff with the program to increase awareness, however this can be difficult with a rotating cast of student workers.
“We have a lot of new staff, a lot of new college kids, and they’ve worked at Tostada twice,” Couture said. “Its busy and we’re trying to show them how to roll a wrap.”
Despite these difficulties, Burns said the number of Green Piece takeout containers in the drop bin have been increasing, suggesting growing interest in sustainable dining at UConn.
“I always have new ideas and things that I want to do to keep this program fun and get people to want to join,” Burns said. “Eventually my goal is decorate that drop off bin to make it look less like a trashcan, to make people go ‘what is that, what is that for.’"
Kimberly Armstrong is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.