Beginning earlier in the spring semester, the Chauhaus café at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) started providing only tableware made from bio-based plastics fit for composting. These specially formulated plates, bowls, cutlery, deli containers, hot and cold cups, and straws can join food scraps, sugar packets, and napkins for composting at a local farm.
This effort is in addition to the café’s successful mug reuse discount. More than 800 coffee and tea drinkers take part in the program, receiving a 25 percent discount on beverages with their refillable mug. The program diverts approximately 500 pounds per week from the trash.
“We used to get about six bags of trash per meal out of Chauhaus. Now we get about half a bag,” according to GSD Dining Services unit manager Jamie Davies.
Outside service ware unfit for composting that is thrown into the compost containers remains the main obstacle to the project. Meanwhile, the composting and recycling team — composed of grad students, GSD facilities and building personnel, and Harvard Dining Service and United Building Service workers — awaits the farmer’s report on the quality of the compost, which will determine whether the program will be sustainable in the long run.