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College cafe finds workable ways to kick plastic and single-use packaging to the curb

Down with disposables! Bennington College’s student-managed Roz’s Café makes a carbon footprint-sized dent in the typical packaging waste that goes on in a coffee shop.

Before the pandemic, single-use plastics and packaging had been getting singled out for the environmental villains they are. When safety shifted to the forefront, sustainability got shunted to the side as many foodservice operations scrambled just to get grab-and-go options out the door any way they could, with labor and supply chain shortages complicating things further. But we, as a planet, still have a major plastics problem.

“Plastics are turning our oceans into landfills, making climate change worse and recycling a failure,” says Judith Enck, former EPA Regional Administrator and President of Beyond Plastics at Bennington College. Students there are very concerned and very interested in ways they can be part of change.

Bennington College’s Roz’s Café opened late last year and has been proving that sustainability doesn’t have to be a pipe dream for a college coffee shop. The major takeaway about Roz’s: The elimination of all single-use and plastic packaging. Reusable mugs and jars, bulk dry goods and housemade baked goods are leading the way.

“Our mission is to create a campus experience that fosters environmentally sound practices for the betterment of our campus, community and local environment by reducing waste and our carbon footprint,” says Bennington’s Executive Chef and GM Steven Bohrer.

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