Sustainable at the table: Dining at UH

What does sustainable dining mean? Sustainable dining is consuming food and beverages in a way that minimizes negative impacts to our planet and society. Here are some ways you can dine more sustainably when you’re at UH main campus:

  1. Bring your own lunch (BYOL) – Make use of the food you have at home. Bring your own lunch in compact, reusable containers. Don’t forget to bring your own reusable bottle and cutlery. If you’re looking for box lunch ideas, check out this Pinterest board.
  2. Eat at restaurants that provide sustainable food sourcing – Look for places that offer food made from sustainable ingredients. Some certifications you may want to look for are: USDA Organic, Fair Trade, Non-GMO Project, Rainforest Alliance, Marine Stewardship Council and more. For example, UH offers Fair Trade coffee at all facilities operated by UH dining.
  3. Enjoy a meatless meal – Meat production is resource intensive, so eating meatless meals can help the planet and your health. Both Fresh Food Co. and Cougar Woods Dining Hall offer a full-service salad bar. In addition, Fresh Food Co. offers a vegetarian station. At both dining halls, you can also request the station attendant to not add meat, dairy or other items if the dish isn’t pre-mixed. Other places that provide a great mix of vegetarian or vegan dishes are Freshii, Tandoori Nite, McAllister’s Deli, and Café 101.
  4. Dine-in at restaurants – If possible, consider dining in at restaurants that provide reusable dinnerware, which diverts landfill waste. Dine-in eateries on campus include McAllister’s Deli, Eric’s, Barron’s Restaurant, Cougar Woods Dining Hall (first LEED-certified building at UH), Fresh Food Co., Chinese Star and Calhoun’s Rooftop. The Nook Café offers free refills on select coffee options when you dine-in.
  5. Dine-out at restaurants with eco-friendly disposables – If you’re unable to dine in, go to restaurants with eco-friendly disposables. Cougar Grounds and Nook Café provide biodegradable to-go cups. Freshii wraps their food in bleach-free paper. Even Barron’s Restaurant provides compostable food containers. Einstein Bros Bagels also offers a refillable mug program with cheaper refills if you purchase and use their branded mug.
  6. Bring your own container (BYOC) – Some eateries on campus allow you to bring your own reusable containers. Both Fresh Food Co. and Cougar Woods offer a reusable to-go container program where you can check-out a reusable container after paying a $5 deposit. You can also bring a refillable tumbler or mug to any Starbucks on campus instead of using their disposable cups. The Nook Café lets you bring your reusable mug for a ten-cent discount.

    Reusable to-go container

    Reusable to-go container

  7. Shop for snacks at the campus convenience stores – If you’re not hungry for a full meal, consider enjoying a snack at the convenience stores on campus. Several stores offer a great mix of Fair Trade-certified and organic products. In the fall, UH Dining will offer snacks from Green Plate Foods and Mamma Chia.
    Green Plate Foods
  8. Support student-run and local eateries – A great way to help the UH community is by supporting student-run restaurants, which provide an educational experience for the students while offering tasty meals at fair prices. Check out Barron’s Restaurant in the College of Hotel and Restaurant Management and Shasta’s Culinary Workshop in Health & Human Performance. UH also offers food trucks that support local entrepreneurs and provide additional cuisine variety on campus.
  9. Share! – Split a large dish or meal with friends to reduce the amount of individualized packaging, food waste and improve your health.
  10. Recycle and dispose food waste and packaging properly – Food and beverage items that are easily recyclable are aluminum and plastic beverage bottles and non-contaminated paper products. Plastic containers can be recycled on campus if they are clearly labeled with a plastic resin code of 1-5 or 7. If possible, take any compostables home and become a home composter.

By following these tips when dining anywhere, you can help contribute to a more sustainable planet.

-Michael Nguyen

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