Reusable container graphic showing steps to receive a container 1: Opt-in 2: Select Food 3: Enjoy! 4: Return the container 5: Exchange for a carabiner

Reusable Container Program

Help WMU reduce our carbon footprint by reducing single-use plastics and opting into the reusable container program at Café 1903!
  1. Opt in by swiping your card at the cashier stand at Café 1903 to receive your first container (You will also need to swipe for your meal as well).
  2. Select your food to be placed in your reusable container.
  3. Enjoy your meal on WMU’s beautiful campus! 
  4. Return your container (empty, please) back to Café 1903 and exchange for a clean, sanitized gold carabiner, which you can swap later for a new container.
  5. Repeat as often as you like!
Why is reducing the use of single-use plastics important?

The production and incineration of plastic produce greenhouse gases which are significant threats to the Earth's climate. Learn more about the environmental impact of plastic.

Compost graphic is cuteComposting Partnership

The Office for Sustainability has partnered with Dining Services and Landscaping Services/Facilities Management to turn the Valley Dining Center’s fruit and vegetable scraps (pre-consumer waste) into compost at the Gibbs House, using a large-scale, aerated static pile system. So far, early data from the two months of collection in 2021 show this partnership diverting over 1800 pounds of food waste from the landfill and this is just the start.

Initial data from January 2021 through early March 2021 shows a meaningful reduction in the amount of food waste that is produced by the VDC and sent to the landfill, through a working partnership between three departments, fostered by OfS:

  • Dining AFSCME staff collect fruit and vegetable trimmings from food preparation for service.
  • Landscape Services staff deliver the 50-gallon bins each week to Gibbs House.
  • Office for Sustainability staff carefully monitors the temperature and moisture environment within the compost piles to ensure it is ideal for the microorganisms to turn the food scrapes into nutrient-rich, natural fertilizer.

LEED Gold IconLEED Gold Certification

Western Michigan University's Valley Dining Center was awarded LEED Gold certification demonstrating continued support for the strategic goal of sustainable stewardship. Valley Dining Center has the ability to seat 1,000 guests while providing a unique variety of food options at nine micro-restaurants. The facility is designed to enhance social interaction and appeal to the interest of all students, staff and guests. Valley Dining Center offers a wide variety of healthy options as the staff prepares roughly 4,000 meals per day in a thoughtful, nutritious manner. Also included is a state-of-the-art pantry accommodating food allergies and intolerances, the first of its kind on campus. The facility incorporates a variety of sustainable features and "green" building functions. Find out more about sustainability at Valley Dining Center.

  • Sustainability data
  • Sustainability data

Food Waste Awareness

In conjunction with the Western Student Association, Dining Services helps to raise awareness about the facts regarding food waste to students and other patrons of the dining centers. These infographics about the quantity of food we waste as a society are posted in the dining halls and throughout campus on digital displays. Students and other diners are encouraged to reduce their own post-consumer food waste in the dining halls by choosing portions responsibly.

Tork Xpress Napkin DispenserRecycled Napkin Dispensing

Dining Services replaced table napkins with Tork® Xpress napkin dispensing systems. To minimize waste and reduce the environmental impact, the dispensers:

  • Use 100% recycled post-consumer recycled fiber napkins.
  • Increases hygiene and cuts waste by delivering one napkin at a time.
  • Utilizes a chlorine-free bleaching process that eliminates the release of damaging chlorine compounds into the environment.