By Sean Robinson – Contributor
Acting as a kitchen for hundreds, the Milo Bail Student Center is flooded daily as an army of faculty and students march to the second floor food court. In the wake of this mob, the garbage cans become piled high with paper products, containers and cups – all of which are then dumped in a landfill. To solve this environmental crisis, administrators decided the best solution would be to go green. The administrations of both MBSC and Food Services initiated an environmentally friendly change for the Student Center by switching to more eco-friendly products for the food court this semester.
“There were no problems,” Business and Finance Vice Chancellor Bill Conley said. “Rather, with this change the MBSC Food Services operation has become a leader in utilizing eco-friendly packaging. Few other food operations anywhere, even on campus locations, have implemented this level of commitment to reducing waste and providing sustainable packaging.”
At the start of the fall semester, all containers and paper goods used in the food court were upgraded to biodegradable products made from cornstarch and recyclable paper materials. The change was made gradually during the summer, and on Aug. 23, all old packaging was disposed of.
The price of the renovation will be an annual fee of $4,000, as the biodegradable cups and flatware are more expensive than typical Styrofoam packaging. However, the price increases in food served at Milo Bail have not been a result of the going green effort.
“I think they are doing a great job changing it up now,” said sophomore Jordan Brunmeier. “I completely agree with the changes. I mean, really the only thing I have had a problem with was when I was looking forward to grabbing some water on my way to class and found out I had to provide the cup instead.”
The Styrofoam cups located by the water and ice machines in the back of the food court are no longer available, which has resulted in some student complaints such as Brunmeier’s. However, the administration encourages students to bring their own water bottles to fill with the free ice and water.
Another way Milo Bail has gone green is to only require items to be bagged in the bookstore when items are purchased in the back of the store. This is done just to ensure that no confusion occurs as to whether the items have been rung up or not when leaving the front.
“This generation understands and is more sympathetic to recycling than those 10 or 15 years older,” Director of MBSC Jim Welch said. “For the future we hope to work with GreenUNO to initiate a compostable situation. It won’t happen in the next year, but it’s a medium-term goal.”
Welch and GreenUNO hope to soon have technology in place that will compost all waste from the food court. GreenUNO has already worked successfully to jump start campus conservation efforts by creating building temperature policies and building energy audits. GreenUNO actively promotes sustainability, which is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future.
“While I haven’t been here long, it seems to me UNO does a great job with being green,” said freshman Callie Johnson. “Everyone I think is trying to do their part and just be responsible towards our environment.