Gator Dining Services plans to eliminate plastic bags in on-campus dining locations.

It has implemented a new sustainability initiative to help reduce petroleum-based waste such as plastic bags.

Subway restaurants at the Reitz Union and Turlington Plaza have recently eliminated the use of plastic bags by introducing labels that secure sandwich wrappings, Jill Rodriguez, marketing program manager for Gator Dining Services, wrote in an email.

Although the restaurants will continue to keep bags on hand for customers who request one, Gator Dining Services is exploring options to replace plastic bags with paper bags at other dining locations, Rodriguez said.

Deta Waller, an 18-year-old UF early childhood education freshman, said the initiative is a great idea and will help UF to be greener.

Waller thinks the new program will help increase student awareness about sustainability issues by sparking conversation when customers inquire about plastic bags.

“It will make students more aware of the environment,” she said.

Waller said the initiative makes her proud to eat at a dining center that is sustainable.

Casey Seely, a 21-year-old UF English junior who eats five meals a day at Gator Dining facilities, said he thinks the initiative is a good course of action.

“I think that going green is always a good choice,” he said.

Local nonprofits also support the new sustainability changes by UF’s dining services.

“We think that by doing this, UF is moving in the right direction,” said Erin Condon, executive director of Florida Defenders of the Environment.

She said it’s always a good idea to reduce the waste a big organization creates.

Worldwide, trillions of plastic bags are used every year, according to UF’s Gator Dining Services’ website.

In an effort to reach UF’s goal of zero waste by 2015, the Green Team, which is in charge of executing sustainability programs with Gator Dining Services, has been investigating ways to minimize food waste in food service locations on campus.

“We will ensure that our sustainability initiatives not only better the environment but improve our customers’ experience when eating on campus,” Rodriguez said.

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