05/31/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

By Losing the Cafeteria Tray, Schools Cut Waste -- and More

It should come as no surprise that when a cafeteria -- whether at a school or corporate campus -- cuts out trays for ferrying food from service to table, diners will eat less. From the article, by Lisa W. Foderaro: Scores of colleges and universities across the country are shelving the trays in hopes of conserving water, cutting food waste, softening the ambience and saving money. Some even believe trayless cafeterias could help avoid the dreaded "freshman 15" -- the number of pounds supposedly gained in the first year on campus (and on all-you-can-eat meal plans). 1

When the eyes are bigger than the stomach -- especially with all of the tasty vegetarian and vegan options now popular on campuses -- entire dishes often go untouched. In an effort to cut down on waste, the Green Report Card has found that a number of schools are simply getting rid of cafeteria trays. Williams College saved 14,000 gallons of water last year by eliminating all of that tray-washing in just one of their four dining halls. If the trayless movement takes off, a similar system in hospitals and cafeteria-style restaurants could go a long way to prevent mountains' worth of discarded food. 2
  1. By Losing the Cafeteria Tray, Schools Cut Waste -- and More (GreenBiz)
  2. Colleges Ditch Cafeteria Trays to Reduce Waste (The Green Life (Sierra Club))