Reintroducing Reusable To-Go Containers

Editor's note:

Starting Spring 2022, Columbia Dining @ Faculty House will accept token and used eco-containers.

October 08, 2021

We know sustainability is important to you – it's important to us, too! Now that indoor dining has resumed, we’re excited to reintroduce reusable to-go containers and the protocol that goes along with using them.

Pick up your eco-container or token by October 29. After October 29, it will cost $5 to join the program.

Each dining plan holder can redeem one reusable container from the cashier booth at any of our residential dining halls (John Jay, JJ's Place, and Ferris) by exchanging a Columbia Dining token for a container.

First-year students received a token at Check-In. No token? No problem. Let the cashier know that you don’t have a token – you’ll still be able to collect a reusable container.

If you're not ready to take a meal to go, you may instead request a token for later.

The reusable container is perfect for when you want to grab a meal to-go. Redeem your container when you swipe in and head into the servery to fill up your container like you would your plate – whatever looks good to you! You can only fill one to-go container per meal swipe. If you want to use a compostable container in addition to your reusable one, you’ll need to swipe in again.

When you’re done with your meal, you can return your used container to John Jay, JJ's Place, or Ferris. You can return it immediately, the next time you’re dining indoors, or when you’re ready to grab another meal to-go, but we recommend that you return the container sooner, rather than later.

In exchange for your container, you will receive a token that can be used again in the future. Please be careful not to misplace your token.

All our dining locations are Department of Health certified. We take food safety very seriously and comply with all DOH policies. The DOH has stringent guidelines regarding the use of personal to-go containers in food service establishments in order to prevent food borne illnesses.

In particular, the DOH requires that all reusable containers are (1) made of food grade materials resistant under normal conditions of use and (2)  sanitized in such a way as to kill illness-causing pathogens. By controlling the containers used in our dining halls, and by facilitating the cleaning process, we can ensure that all reusable containers comply with DOH guidelines.

You’ll thank us when you never have to wash a dish!

Composting is good for the planet. But reducing our waste is even better. We encourage students to take advantage of the reusable containers to reduce your waste as an individual and our waste as a community.

Plus, the compostable containers are 50-cents each. Our reusable ones are complimentary, which means they’re not only good for the planet -- they’re also good for your wallet.

A key element of sustainability is to reduce. We reduce by regulating the number of reusable containers circulating during the academic year. This practice helps to ensure that students return their containers frequently, that fewer containers are abandoned, lost, or thrown out, and that our operations can handle the number of containers being returned for cleaning.

You may have noticed that there was no limit to the compostable to-go containers used while indoor dining was closed. During that time, our all-you-care-to-eat policy was maintained by allowing students to take whatever they needed from the dining halls. Now that indoor dining has resumed, and students have unlimited access to the servery when eating indoors, we have returned to our long-standing practice of one single to-go container.

Sustainability is an important component of our operations. Learn more about our sustainable practices.