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Sustainability and DDS

We at Dartmouth Dining Services are doing our part to make our operations environmentally sustainable.  The transformation of Thayer Hall into the Class of 1953 Commons included a complete redesign with environmental concerns as a priority.  Better insulation and more efficient lighting alone will save the College an estimated $300,000 per year.

Environmental initiatives extend beyond the building and into our daily decisions.  Through aggressive composting and recycling, we hope to divert 90% of our waste from landfills.  We are buying more local and regional products and working with our customers and vendors to reduce packaging.

The opening term of 1953 Commons DDS hosted Barton Seaver, renowned sustainable chef and National Geographic Fellow, to teach us about sustainability in our fish courses.  In addition to tasty new courses, we adjusted our purchasing and menu planning to be more respectful of our sea life.

Haley Moulton '15 and Delainey Ackerman '15 filmed a documentary about the sustainability of food at Dartmouth with a focus on the Class of 1953 Commons. It discusses the progress that DDS has made, as well as the challenges of producing upwards of 10,000 meals per day. 

Food Sustainability at Dartmouth College from Dartmouth Film & Media Studies on Vimeo.   This link has been embedded with the permission of D. Ackerman and was not produced under the direction of DDS.

While we have made progress, there is clearly more to be done.  Over the coming months and decades, DDS will strive to increase our sustainability and decrease our footprint on the Earth.  Please let us know if you have any suggestions.

You can do your part too.  While our to-go containers are recyclable or compostable, it still takes resources to create and recycle them.  The most environmentally friendly contribution our customers can make to the sustainability of dining at Dartmouth College on a daily basis is to enjoy your food in '53 Commons.

Dartmouth Sustainable Dining

Greener Cleaning at 1953 Commons

The Class of 1953 Commons Dining Hall and other Dining Locations on campus use "Green" cleaning products. These include the dishwasher detergent and rinse agent, pot washing presoak and the pot and pan detergent. These productscarry the Design for the Environment Label.

Behind the scenes:

  • Bulk cardboard > 1,200 pounds a week.
  • Recycle waste frying oil for biodiesel production, or used by the Dartmouth Big Green Bus
  • Recycle plastic bulk food containers.
  • Recycle metal bulk food containers.
  • Compost > 100 cubic yards of trash are eliminated from the waste stream each week due to aggressive composting.
  • Recycles 1–7 plastics, aluminum, cardboard, paper, and glass.
  • Recycle newspapers and magazines.
  • Use bleach free compostable paper napkins.

In addition to the recycled and composted item listed above, each dining area expands on this program.

1953 Commons:

  • Compostable waste
  • Food waste
  • Compostable containers
  • Cardboard milk containers
  • Paper napkins

Courtyard Café:

  • Waste cooking oil > 40 gallons per week
  • Compost food waste
  • Use compostable plates, bowls and cups
  • Collis Café: Waste cooking oil compost kitchen food waste
  • Use compostable plates, bowls and cups

DDS Quick Facts

  • Waste fryer oil is either recycled for biodiesel production or used by the Dartmouth Big Green Bus.Customers purchase approximately 400,000 bottles of non-carbonated, non-flavored bottled water each year.
  • Customers purchase approximately 80,000 bottles of Dasani water from campus vending machines each year.
  • Just by moving the to-go containers to the entrance area of the dining hall, plastic usage was reduced by 44%.
  • Local food account for 4% of total food purchased at DDS.
  • 100% of pre-consumer food scraps are composted.

David Newlove, Director of Dartmouth Dining Services, takes time out to address questions regarding DDS and sustainability.

What is DDS’s role in the College’s sustainability initiative?

Dartmouth Dining Services continues to run one of the top-rated college food services in the country, while decreasing our eco-footprint every year.

What are some changes that DDS has implemented to impact sustainability at Dartmouth?

We’ve increased the amount of purchases of both “local” foods and foods that do not adversely affect the environment. Buying produce and fruits that are seasonal is one example. Buying fish, in keeping with the practice of seafood sustainability, is another example.

Additionally, we work with our purveyors to reduce the amount of waste (i.e., less packaging and more bulk) associated with products that we use. DDS has also increased our recycling rate. Since the recent implementation of an aggressive recycling program, DDS has decreased its waste by one third.

What are some choices that students can make to be a part of DDS’s sustainability movement?

Practice some Slow Food movement philosophies—buy less take-out, drink tap water instead of bottled water, eat more local products, walk or bike to the dining halls instead of driving.  Use one of the hydration stations located in Collis, '53 Commonsand other areas on campus to refill your water bottle.

How can students reduce the use of disposable containers at Dartmouth?

Take the time to sit down and enjoy a meal, instead of taking food to-go. Use DBA to buy a KeepCup from Novack or a Pierce Bros mug from Collis and get more coffee while reduceing waste. 

What are some ways and products that students can use to help DDS reduce waste?

 Use tote bags for purchases at Collis Market. Use your Eco Mug, the Novack Mug or Collis Café Coffee mug for Coffee, Hot Chocolate or Tea and reduce the use of paper cups. Be mindful of the options for to-go containers, plates etc., use the appropriate bins, Compost, Recycle, Landfill.

For more on Dartmouth College Sustainability initiative, see Green Report 2011.

Last Updated: 3/6/14