Food for thought: Assessing student perceptions of meal hall plastic waste and sustainability in Dalhousie Halifax campus residences
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The generation of large amounts of waste from single-use disposable plastics presents a barrier to achieving greater campus sustainability. It has been noticed that Dalhousie University residences use and waste an abundance of disposable plastics. This is especially seen in the dining hall to-go lunch practices provided by the dining halls. This project involved a qualitative analysis of Dalhousie residence students to evaluate if students support the implementation of a reusable Meal-To-Go container system and to quantitative count of how many to-go lunches were requested in an average week. This research study will indicate if such a program would be supported, perceived barriers that would prevent the implementation of the program, and the feasibility of such a project. It was found that nearly all of the students who were surveyed were supportive of the implementation of a reusable container program. Potential benefits of implementing the program highlighted were the overall reduction in single use plastic waste, food waste reduction and an increase in the convenience of eating at the meal halls. The results were conclusive with that of our predictions: that the student population living in Dalhousie University residences would like to see the implementation of a reusable container system. It was also found that majority of the students either do not use the Meal-To-Go program or had not heard of it prior to the study. A future analysis of student perceptions on the Meal-To-Go program following this study would be beneficial to determine the effectiveness of communication between residence life management and students in regard to services they provide, as well as further study and pilot testing into the implementation of a reusable container program for residence meal halls.