Cafeteria reusable containers come with unnecessary price

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The recycling bug has bit at Mercer. What with Trayless Tuesdays in the cafeteria to cut down on water waste and the newly implemented dorm recycling containers located outside the lofts, freshman dorms and the apartments, Mercer is abuzz with recycling programs.
In fact, just last week the Environmental, Health and Safety Office and Heather Bowman Cutway announced to Mercer students that in an effort to reduce the amount of waste Mercer sends to the landfill, our Student Government, Students for Environmental Action, HOD Environmental Concerns Committee, National and the Physical Plant department have teamed up to expand recycling at Mercer even more.
Plastic bottle and aluminum can recycling containers are now available in numerous locations across campus.
Knight Hall, Tarver, Ware, Wiggs, the Science and Engineering Building and many more buildings now all have containers for aluminum recycling and more than half of the newest recycling locations also offer containers for plastic disposal.
I am in full support of the new recycling program, just as I was in full support of the biodegradable to-go boxes the cafeteria changed to last year, even though the silverware packets were devoid of salt and pepper.
The problem is not with the recycling program. My problem has to do with the new green, reusable to-go containers that first made their debut last year.
My issue is not that the containers are reusable, or that they are to be turned back into the cafeteria staff or the machine located across from the vending machines in the Connell Student Center to be washed and then given back out.
The problem is not that the cafeteria is trying to be environmentally friendly by minimizing the amount of trash produced by Mercer every year. That is something to be proud of. Way to go Mercer for trying to minimize our environmental footprint.
The problem is the addition to the to-go containers. The fact that students are now forced to either pay $3.50 to be able to use the to-go containers or be forced to eat in the cafeteria.
While $3.50 is not an absurd amount of money and in most other circumstances there would be no reason for complaint, the fact that students now have to pay not only for a meal plan—which, let’s face it, are a bit expensive—and a to-go container if they wish to take the tasty cafeteria food anywhere besides the cafeteria premises is ridiculous.
Freshmen and sophomores already pay well over $2000 a semester for unlimited and 14-meal-a-week meal plans.
A ten-meal membership costs close to $1500 and even the least expensive meal membership, the 40-block meal plan, costs $375. These prices are crazy.
That means that every time someone with a 40-block plan goes and eats at the cafeteria, it costs them approximately $9.37 per meal.
The prices only increase from there.
But now, instead of it being free to take food from the cafeteria, as it was the first three years of my career here, it now costs an extra $3.50 to buy a container for the food to go into.
All I am saying is that we already pay enough for meal plans at Mercer, so shouldn’t we be able to take the food we already pay outrageous prices for anywhere we want to take it for free?
Is it not too much to ask that we be provided containers instead of having to buy the containers?
And if the prices for the reusable containers are a necessity, why are they not included in the prices that we already pay for meal memberships?
Students should not be surprised the first time they go to the cafeteria wanting a to-go box with a $3.50 ransom.
Students should be able to take the cafeteria food anywhere they want for no charge.
Get rid of the mandatory price or add it into the meal memberships because any additional costs Mercer students have to pay out of pocket for trivial things should be cut out.
Don’t we already pay enough?

Comments, criticisms, rebuttals and issues about this opinion can be emailed to opinions@mercercluster.com.

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