Sun. Jan 17th, 2021

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Letter to the Editor: Environmental effects of to-go boxes outweigh inconvenience of taking food on the run

2 min read
As an officer of the Ecology Club, I was given the invitation to attend the most recent SGA Cabinet meeting to shed light on the use of plastic to-go boxes at WOW Wingery.

To the Editor:

As an officer of the Ecology Club, I was given the invitation to attend the most recent SGA Cabinet meeting to shed light on the use of plastic to-go boxes at WOW Wingery. There is currently a Senate motion going through the Executive Cabinet to remove the to-go boxes that have briefly reentered WOW. I have looked, several times, into the disposable options offered by our University and have a wide array of knowledge regarding the to-go options that we, as a university, have available to us.

Walking away from the meeting, I was shocked by the entitlement felt by a small sect of students. To shed some light on the issue, for every 1 kg of plastic, 6 kg of CO2 is created. Therefore, in viewing our current to-go boxes, which weigh approximately 0.035 kg, each box produces 0.21 kg of CO2. With these numbers, if every student got one to-go box per week we would produce over 1,850 pounds of CO2 per week.

Also, in 2009 our University committed to sustainability policies and procedures which outlined policy that disposable food containers should be avoided at the greatest extent possible. I think the opinion of those opposing this motion was effectively summed up by the former SGA President Jeremy Thompson when he said, “The benefits you have presented are wonderful and I share them, but at what cost? I am not willing to sacrifice to go boxes to lower my carbon footprint because I don’t have to make that choice.”

At what cost? The current cost to students is five minutes of time eating their food inside, or choosing a sandwich already packaged rather than chicken. However, the overall cost would include ignoring our university’s values and increasing our waste stream, while contributing to a process of which the consequences far outweigh our five minutes spent eating chicken.

According to the students I was in a passionate discussion with on Monday, these costs do not outweigh the inconvenience incurred to the student by not being able to take their food to go. The inconvenience of not being able to use a box that has been provided to us for about a week and possibly eating lukewarm food is seen as a greater cost than the destruction caused by the production of these boxes and the disregard of our community values.

As an active student body with a commitment to service, I am astounded that our contribution to environmental degradation is seen as a smaller cost than eating cold chicken; that our commitments to reduce our impact as a university is of smaller importance than our inconvenience of toting food in an open container. I think the costs are clear. For a wasteful process to continue under the name of student convenience certainly seems entitled when the motion asks for a simple sacrifice that in turn has a significant impact on our community.

Samantha Corron is a senior.

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