An event that began as a celebration of Earth Day is becoming a tradition in UC Davis dining commons. Trayless Tuesdays, where diners cannot use trays for their plates and glasses, began Apr. 22, and will continue for the rest of the year.
“Trayless Tuesdays allow us to ‘test the waters’ – gather feedback and statistics towards making the change permanent in the years to come,” said Sodexo Inc. Dining Commons general manager Brenan Connolly in an e-mailinterview.
Connolly said that the main goals of Trayless Tuesdays are to cut down on water used for the washing of trays and food wasted when diners pick up more food than they can eat.
“Trayless Tuesdays is a part of Sodexo’s sustainability initiative and part of our movement, here on campus, towards a more sustainable food system,” Connolly said.
Connolly said that when the Tercero and Segundo dining commons opened, University Dining Services considered having a trayless system, but instead they decided to use smaller trays.
The CastilianDining Commons, part of the Cuarto student living complex, has never used trays.
“The Castilian trial made a good study for the future … both with regards to waste reduction and student convenience. We do not hear any comments from students about trays or the lack of in Castilian,” Connolly said.
Connolly said that the challenges for Castilianare fewer than those at Tercero or Segundo because it is a smaller facility. He said that despite the lack of trays at Castilian, most students do not understand the reasons for Trayless Tuesdays.
“I’ve heard residents grumble about Trayless Tuesdays,” said Jordan Huller, sophomorepsychology major and resident adviser. Huller said he can see how it is inconvenient not to use a tray because diners cannot get multiple plates.
“I think that’s a valid complaint,” Huller said.
But Huller said overall, the new system is beneficial.
“It’s a good initiative going toward the sustainability reform that the dining commons are trying to adopt,” Huller said. “If nothing else, it’s asking students to recognize their meal pattern.”
According to an e-mail sent out to students from University Dining Services, trayless dining could also cut down on costs to residents because there will be noneed for replacement trays. The e-mail also stated that fewer dishes will lead to less detergent used and cleaner water for the Davis community.
Trayless Tuesdays have already had an impact on the Sodexo employees who wash dishes.
“We do have fewer dishes, so it’s a good thing,” said Alex Single, a junior history major who works in the Oxford Circle Dining Commons.
Single said he washeddishes before Trayless Tuesdays began, and the difference is noticeable.
“It’s a significant chunk because almost everyone has a tray,” Single said.
One goal for the Trayless Tuesdays, stated by University Dining Services, is for students to cut down on food consumption.
“If they [diners] don’t have a tray, they won’t pile as much food onto one tray,” said Melinda Leung, a senior chemistry major who works in the Oxford Circle Dining Commons.
Leung said she can see that the trayless system is inconvenient, but she believes it is a good idea.
“I think it’s very adjustable,” Leung said.
Leung said that students have written complaints against Trayless Tuesday on the dining commons suggestion cards, but some students have also provided positive feedback.
“It definitely is something that current students must get used to. The convenience is a small thing to sacrifice for the savings to the environment,” Connolly said.
MADELINE McCURRY SCHMIDT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.