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  • Clara McCool

How to Be Sustainable on a UVA Dining Meal Plan

As the semester is coming to a close, you may be wondering whether or not you should sign up for a meal plan this Fall. Here are 7 ways you can be sustainable on a meal plan:

1. Cupanion

UVA Dining partners with Cupanion to help reduce plastic, single-use waste and encourage people to bring reusable cups when getting water or drinks at locations across Grounds. All you have to do is download the Fill It Forward app and look for the Cupanion Program barcode signs at our coffee shops and cafes to earn points when you bring a reusable cup or mug! You can redeem points for free drinks from Greenberry's, free reusable water bottles, and other rewards.

2. To-Go Boxes

We offer reusable to-go boxes at all of our dining locations. All you have to do is ask for one when you swipe in, and return it next time you go. Now a part of the Cupanion program, when you bring your to-go box to the dish return you can scan to get even more points!

3. Dining Halls are Strawless

In our commitment to reducing single use plastic waste, we do not offer straws in dining halls and encourage students to Skip the Straw at other locations. We also host a number of pop-up events on grounds where we give away free stainless steel reusable straws for you to use!

4. Locally sourced food

We also sell products from local farms in the Charlottesville area. We partner with the Local Food Hub and other distributors to source seasonal produce. We also feature produce from Morven Kitchen Garden, a farm located in Charlottesville, where students can go to learn more about sustainable agriculture at special events during the semester. We have several pop-ups where you can sample local business products such as smoothies from the Juice Laundry. Click here to read about why eating local food is good for our environment, and click here to see what brands we carry at different locations across Grounds!

5. Plant Forward Fridays

One of our biggest initiatives this semester has been Plant Forward Fridays. Every Friday, all three dining halls offer a variety of options that are plant-based, oftentimes transforming meals usually made with meat into a vegetarian option. While not completely vegetarian, the plant forward initiative encourages people to eat less meat overall. Good for you and good for the planet, click here to learn more about the benefits of a plant forward diet!

6. Sustainable Taste Cart

Every Wednesday in Fresh Food Co., the Taste Cart offers samples of sustainable items from local partners, the Fontana bakeshop, and more!

7. Fair Trade Campaign

In 2016, UVA launched a campaign with Fair Trade to ensure that there are products on Grounds that are certified and as a way for students to take part in social change. An organization that prioritizes people and the environment, Fair Trade creates a trade system that guarantees the people producing the products work in safe conditions, are environmentally conscious, and have sustainable livelihoods, getting paid the amount they deserve.

8. Reusable Bags at Runk 1819

On Earth Day, Runk's convenience store made plastic bags only available upon request. You can now purchase a reusable bag for $2 in the convenience store. Do your part to reuse and reduce plastic by bringing your own bag when you shop on and off grounds!

It is more important now than ever that we are doing everything we can to lessen our contribution to waste accumulation and climate change. We will continue to evolve and add initiatives as new ideas on how to be even more sustainable develop, and we would love for you to join us in our quest to make UVA as green as possible!

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