Reusable To-Go Program Wrap-Up

With exams signifying the end of the academic year and the end of the time frame to cash in on one's meal plan benefits, reusable to-go program participants had the chance to return their key cards in exchange for being refunded their $7 security deposit. 321 UVa community members (mostly students with a handful of faculty) participated in the reusable to-go container program's inaugural year and about a third of them returned their key cards in order to get back the $7. Hereford Residential College provided the option of free participation, as their administration agreed to underwrite the cost of unreturned containers. The final verdict is still out on this experiment, but few students took advantage of the free sign-up and even fewer returned the materials last week. This brings up an interesting facet of human psychology: "free" may catch one's attention, but the presence of a fee may prompt users to have even a slightly more vested interest in the program. My personal opinion is that a refundable deposit provides the best of both worlds.

Since students had to return their key cards to the Dining Admin Office to receive their refunds, I had the chance to briefly interact with many of them, and the general consensus on the containers were: "They were great. It was an easy way for me to make a difference and reduce my environmental impact."

Some other specific email comments I received include:

"I would just like to say thank you for the re-usable program! I have found it incredibly easy and convenient to use! I hope it can continue in the coming years."

"I think the program has come a long way since the beginning of the school year and I definitely see more people using it. "

"The containers worked great."

"I loved the program, and I will definitely be doing it again next year!"

If you didn't try out reusable to-go containers this year, you'll be able to sign up next year. The program will be very similar, but keep your eyes open for some extra incentives to sweeten the deal a bit more...

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