Tag Archives: Foam Free VT

Is that “For Here” or “To Go?”

DS184_Compostable_DigitalSign2With the start of a new semester, brings a new inititative from VT Dining Services: Compostable To-Go Containers.  These containers replace all foam clamshell containers in the units.  You will find these containers at Owens Food Court, Hokie Grill, West End Market and Turner Place.

Please remember to order “for here” when you’re eating in and return your compostable to-go container to the compost bins in our dining units.  Compostable To-Go containers can be returned to the following locations.

Dish Return Areas:

  • West End Market or
  • Owens Food Court

Waste Station Bins marked “Compostable” located in:

  • Turner Place at Lavery Hall
  • Squires Student Center
  • Graduate Life Center
  • Hokie Grill at Owens

What’s New with Dining Sustainability this semester?

As well as on Instagram and Twitter: @VtGreenDining

Sustainability in What you Eat:

  • Dining Services spent 12.9 % of its food and beverage budget on local food last academic year.  This is an increase from 10.8% in 2012-13.
  • Our Farm Manager, Alex Hessler, is teaching a course this Fall on Small Scale Sustainable Farm Management.  He already has 13 students enrolled.  Consider adding the class to your schedule (Hort 4984)!
  • The Hokie Hi Welcome Picnic will be serving local watermelon from the Dining Services Farm, all 1600 lbs of it!

Sustainability in What you Use:


  •  This year, Dining Services has a new Reusable Water Bottle for sale in most of our units.  The water bottle can used for water and customers can get a discount on soda when presented at the register in participating units (see full list here).
New Reusable Water bottles available for purchase this Fall.

New Reusable Water bottles available for purchase this Fall.

  • Pay $3 cash or $6 flex for use of a Reusable To-Go Container when ordering food.  When finished with the container,  return the container to the Ozzi machine located next to the kiosk in WEM, and receive a token.  This token can then be handed to the cashiers at WEM for the next time they would like to order in a Reusable To-Go container.


  • All Coke cups are now compostable.  Make sure you throw it in the right bin (the compost bin) when you leave! If you set it on the dish return, our staff will take care of it.
  • The Hokie Hi Picnic this year will be Zero Waste which means that all to-go ware will be either compostable or recyclable.  This event is designated to be a Virginia Green Event  and will reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill drastically.
  • Stay tuned for news on potentially transitioning away from foam to-go containers sometime this coming academic year!


Sustainability in Where it Goes:

  • Since 2009, VT Dining Services has diverted more than 2100 tons of waste from the landfill through our composting program.  Eventually, some of the finished compost goes back to the farm  to be used to enrich our soil and close the loop.



Announcing VT Dining’s Reusable To-Go Container Program

This August, a long awaited alternative to foam to-go containers will be available at West End Market.  All Dining Services meal plan holders are eligible to become a member in the Reusable To-Go container program.

The number one sustainability concern that Dining Services hears about is the usage of foam to-go contianers in the dining halls.  It has been a long road to find an appropriate alternative that does not compromise the safety or quality of the food being served to Virginia Tech students, faculty & staff.  West End Market will be a pilot for our Reusable To-Go program and hopefully we’ll be able to expand the program to other dining units in the future.

Click here to learn more about Virginia Tech Dining Services Reusable To-Go container program.

Questions? Email sustainabledining[at]vt.edu

ID1357 ReusableToGo_poster_7_8_13

Waste Stations at Turner Place

In August, Dining Services opened Turner Place at Lavery Hall.  With bagel sandwiches, crepes and gelato, soups and salads, burritos, rotisserie chicken, personal pan pizzas and freshly blended smoothies, you can’t go wrong!

With a new dining hall comes also a new method of waste sorting.  In Turner Place, we have 10 Waste Stations with receptacles for compostables, recyclables and landfill-ables.  Each bin has a sign with pictures of what should go in each bin.  These Waste Stations are designed to help you think through where each bit of waste should go.

In Dining Halls on campus like West End Market, Owens Dining Hall, and D2, the waste sorting is done behind the scenes by Dining Services’ wonderful staff members.  At Turner Place, it’s all up to you!

In 2012, all of Dining Services diverted over 500 tons of waste towards compost.  This means that through this composting program, we’ve kept over 100,000 lbs of food waste out of the landfill!

What goes where:

Don’t feel overwhelmed!  When the compost or recycle bins are contaminated, the entire batch of compostables or recyclables will be thrown away in the landfill.    Ask a Dining Services Staff member if you have questions. Remember, all  food leftovers, and paper products can be composted.  Plastics 1 – 7  can be recycled, and everything else goes into the landfill.  If you’re not sure about which bin, put it in the landfill bin.



When in doubt, throw it out (in the landfill).

At University of Michigan, students are taking waste sorting seriously!

Questions?  Please contact the Dining Services Sustainability Coordinator, Rial Tombes at sustainabledining@vt.edu.

DS Green Team Member Spotlight: Josh Pike

The Dining Services Green Team is a new initiative on campus that is promoting current sustainable dining projects.  Turner Place has unique waste stations that allow for composting, recycling and landfill-ing.  During peak lunch hours (11 -2), Dining Services Green Team Members guide their peers through the process of properly sorting their waste.

You, too, can be a part of the Dining Services Green Team! 

Dining Services Green Team Member Spotlight: Josh Pike

Major:  Marketing Management and HR Management

Year:  Senior

Hometown:  Madison, Virginia

Favorite Food:  Pork BBQ

Favorite Place to eat on campus: West End Market

How did you hear about the Dining Services Green Team:  I heard about the Green Team from the Facebook page for The Dining Services at Kentland Farm Volunteer Program.

Favorite part of the Dining Services Green team?:   My favorite part about the Green Team is seeing the transition from people just throwing away trash in whichever trash can they see first, to now seeing people actually take a few seconds to stop and separate their trash into compost, recyclables, and landfill materials.  This is a rewarding experience because it makes you feel that people actually care about improving the environment.

Join the Dining Services Green Team!

Join the Virginia Tech Dining Services Green Team and help educate our community about Sustainable Dining Initiatives at Virginia Tech.

The DS Green Team is a great way for you to get involved in Sustainable Dining Initiatives on campus.  Dining Services Green Team members will have their hands on the pulse of Sustainability in Dining Services.  Work with Dining Services’ Sustainability Coordinator to get rid of  Styrofoam to go containers on campus!  Work with Dining Services staff members to educate customers about sustainable habits.  Encourage further local food sourcing and engage with the Dining Services Garden at Kentland Farm!

Project Waste Station starts Monday 11/12.  Sign up for a  shift HERE!

The Waste Stations at Turner Place have the capacity to accept compostables, recyclables and landfill- ables.  Green Team members will be stationed during lunch hours (11-2) at Turner Place. Sign up for a shift HERE.

How it Works:

  1. Sign up for a Green Team Member Shift at Turner Place.  Shifts will last one hour.  We are asking that you sign up for shifts that you can attend on a weekly basis.  If you can’t make that weekly commitment, just note that in the survey.  Shifts start the week of 11/12 and will run until 12/12 (excluding Thanksgiving Break).  You are more than welcome to sign up for MORE than one shift per week!!
  2. Keep an eye out for an email from the Dining Services Sustainability Coordinator about specifics for your shift.Green Team Members are asked to wear a DS Green Team Button during their shifts.  Info about where/ when to pick these up will be sent in this email.
  3. Report to Turner Place for your first shift.  Wear you Dining Services Green Team Button.
  4. Volunteer for at least 5 DS Green Team shifts before Winter Break and you will receive a FREE Reusable Bottle from Dining Services.

Questions?  Please contact the Dining Services Sustainability Coordinator, Rial Tombes at rmtombes@vt.edu.

THANK YOU & DS Green Team!

To all the volunteers that made this past season at the Dining Services Garden at Kentland Farm possible: THANK YOU!!

Please fill out this survey about your experiences at the garden this season!

And sign up for a shift with the Dining Services Green Team!