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UC Davis Dorm Events Dish Up Green

March 29, 2010

New plastic dishes have earned more than a guest spot in the social scene in the residence halls at UC Davis.

Aggieware -- kits of reusable plates, cups, bowls and utensils -- have replaced disposable paper products at organized gatherings.

It's one of the ways that UC Davis and its students are fostering a more sustainable campus.

“I like the idea of not having to throw anything away,” said Tiglath Ziyeh, a psychology major at a Thompson Hall social.

Previously, events like pizza nights and ice-cream socials among the 4,500 residents had used more than $8,000 a year in disposable paper products and contributed lots to trash bins.

This fall, UC Davis put the Aggieware kits, which include napkins made from recycled material and a compost bag, in the hands of more than 100 resident advisers (with extras in the dining halls) for about $17,000.

"It's a pretty economical program, and when you factor in environmental stewardship, it's a win-win," said Patrice Stafford, who is the sustainability coordinator for Student Housing.

Students like using the tough plastic dishes. "They think it's great that they aren't paper plates that break or dump," Stafford said. "And the big sell is that they don't have to clean them."

Resident advisers take the used Aggieware to their dining hall, where the dirty dishes are washed and the compostables are added to the compost food compactor. Then the kits are reassembled with clean dishes for the next use.

"One of the big things about Davis is how we care about sustainability, and that's one of the things that drew me to Davis," said resident adviser Courtney Hall, who has used Aggieware for social events. "I think it's great we're doing another thing to be more sustainable."

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