Writer vs. Writer: New Charge on To-Go Boxes

by The Cowl Editor on February 8, 2018


by Andrea Traietti ’21

Opinion Staff

The recent decision to charge 50 cents for each to-go box at the Take3 station in Alumni Hall represents a step in the right direction towards making Providence College a more sustainable campus.

Currently, PC boasts an array of different sustainable resources and environmental protection efforts. The Slavin Center Bioretention System and the several bioswales on campus aim not only to control flood water quantity, but also to improve the water quality of often-polluted rainwater. The Slavin Center is also home to a Building-Integrated Photovoltaic system, which converts sunlight directly into enough electricity to light much of the building. Along with these systems, the College takes care to monitor and track both its carbon footprint and its water conservation.

The charge for the to-go boxes, however, places more responsibility directly on students, thus broadening the scope of PC’s campus sustainability efforts. It is inevitable that sometimes we simply have to use a plastic box or drink from a plastic water bottle. However, the additional charge for the box makes students consider that there are cheaper—and more environmentally friendly—options available to them.

Environmentally speaking, plastic is a dangerous material due to its chemical properties. Plastic takes a while to break down, which makes recycled plastic unfit for manufacturing. However, this characteristic of plastic presents an even larger problem for non-recycled plastic thrown into the trash or onto the ground. Plastics are non-biodegradable, so they persist in both natural environments and in landfills.

Therefore, plastic is piling up both in the ocean and on land, killing marine and terrestrial animals alike. Considering the effects of plastic on wildlife and on the environment in general, plastic production, consumption, and recycling need to be reevaluated.

Perhaps in the future the College should make more of a concerted effort in eliminating plastic either by further raising the cost of containers or by ending the use of plastic bags and containers altogether.

But for now, the move to charge a fee for Take3 containers is enough to not only begin decreasing PC’s plastic consumption but also to start a conversation about how we can create an environmentally sustainable campus and community.


by Kevin Copp ’18

Opinion Staff

The Take3 option in Alumni has long been a favorite meal option for ambitious freshmen and internship-bound seniors alike. Sophomores and juniors often use it to balance a busy schedule or grab a quick bite without dipping into their precious FriarBucks.

However, the Take3 option, in addition to the many other items students may bring out of Alumni, is threatened by the new 50 cent charge on to-go boxes. Such a change, while seemingly minimal on the surface, could harm the overall business of Alumni and send even more students down to the Eaton Street Café.

Although a charge of 50 cents is far from excessive, the principle of adding on fees for containers might bring some students to question their decision to opt for Take3. Because Take3 has always been a “free” option in the past in the sense that it is already included in their meal plan, students feel as though they have been able to save themselves FriarBucks and cash.

Even though the charge is only implemented if the customer needs a plastic container in addition to the paper basket in which the meal comes, it takes away the feeling of “gaming” the system if they do prefer a plastic to-go container. Students may no longer flock to the haven of Take3 if they are required to pay a fee for a plastic to-go container when they have previously obtained it free of charge. The new charge also begs the question as to what is and what is not available to have a price placed on it. If to-go boxes are being charged today, will water cups be charged tomorrow?

Stuart Gerhardt, the general manager for Providence College Dining Services, noted that customers can easily store their paper basket of food in a paper bag that is available at no additional cost. Yet is a paper basket inside of a paper bag the best way to transport a messy chicken patty oozing with bleu cheese and hot sauce? Will students and athletes travelling long distances want to have their food rolling around inside a paper bag?

One athlete who has frequented Take3 for years believes that the charge for to-go boxes is unnecessary and inconvenient. Tom Planek ’18, a member of the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team, expressed his frustration with the new chargez; “I am on the go and often take a chicken patty with me before or after practice. The amount of tuition I pay should be able to cover to-go boxes.”

The convenience of plastic to-go boxes and Alumni overall, especially for those who are always on the move, is in serious jeopardy because of the new charge. The confines of the Eaton Street Café suddenly look much friendlier for students who want to take out their food for free.