Going tray-less and ‘green’ an adjustment

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

As many readers know, the new dining hall at Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Halls opened at the beginning of the year. Called “Penn Station,” it boasts spiffy new architecture and new a la carte format where different serving islands host a variety of food options.

It also has no trays.

No, not a misprint. The trays that everyone who ever lived in University housing has become accustomed to aren’t there. A sign on the entrance way explains, “In the interest of sustainability, PAR is a TRAY-LESS facility.”

No doubt this change has made using Penn Station somewhat inconvenient to students, especially those who use trays. But if we believe the hype, going tray-less will help the environment and cut down on operating costs, both which of course, benefit


But is it really worth it? We won’t really know until housing analyzes its ‘experiment.’ In the meantime though, it’s hard to get really excited about something like going tray-less, especially considering the moderate hassle dining without them posses.

We know that making this University a green one will be a painfully slow process and that in the end, it will be a testament to innovation and institutional responsibility. But for now we’re left wondering.

Why is it so hard to find a recycling bin on Quad Day? It would be a logical thing to have considering that thousands of students end up with dozens of pieces of paper that they’ll never read. But the event that presents one of the biggest opportunities of the year for responsible disposal passes normally.

And it wouldn’t take a lot of funding, even for temporary recycling bins to be brought in just for the day. But then again, if a school like Grand Valley State University in Michigan (roughly 25,000 students) can save about $80,000, surely the University can top that.

Some of those savings could be re-invested in sustainability projects around campus such as replacing lights with energy efficient bulbs and “green” University vehicles.

We’re told constantly that it’s up to everyone to do his or her part to help the environment. We individually do these little tasks that eventually add up to a big gain for planet and hopefully we figure out how to save money along the way. As the University attempts to go green, we have to keep missed opportunities in mind.

If we don’t, people will only get to feel like they’re helping the planet. But then, wouldn’t it feel good to be able to use those trays again, too?