TRU Sustainability launches reusable cutlery program

Custom pouches filled with forks, knives and soup spoons were passed out on campus free-of-charge

TRU is moving ahead of the federal government’s ban on single-use plastic cutlery by the end of 2021 by eliminating all plastic cutlery on campus during the fall semester.

Last week the Sustainability Office launched the Reusable Cutlery Program and passed out 1,000 custom bags filled with stainless steel forks, knives, and soup spoons free to students, staff, and faculty–making it easy for students, staff, and faculty to pack their own reusable cutlery when on campus.

The program launch was beyond successful. The Sustainability Office had planned to pass out the reusable cutlery pouches on both Thursday and Friday but ran out within the first two hours out in front of Old Main. Environmental Programs and Research Coordinator, James Gordon, stated that the Sustainability Office plans to put more sets together as it was made clear students, staff and faculty are fond of the program and want their own cutlery.

Gordon explained that Open-Learning faculty member, Haley Feller whipped up 1,000 custom pouches in which the Sustainability Office then filled with cutlery. Feller, who runs Ahem Waste-Free, a zero-waste company known around town was up to the tasks as she is no stranger to sewing her own cutlery pouches, bulk bags and reusable nursing pads.

“The pouches are made from repurposed cotton-polyester blend bedsheets that were deemed unusable because of either rips or stains. And the cutlery was either donated or found at local thrift stores,” said Gordon.

“The cutlery was put through our industrial dishwasher at the Campus Activity Centre,” said Gordon, “but students, staff, and faculty should go ahead and wash them once they get their sets home just to be safe.”

Gordon stated that the Reusable Cutlery Program is in line with the federal government’s plan to ban six types of single-use plastics across the country by the end of 2021. “Plastic cutlery is included in that plan as well as, plastic drinks rings, straws, stir sticks, to-go containers and shopping bags.”

“Basically, once stock of to-go containers and what not are used up around campus, that’s it. TRU won’t be purchasing more stock. And at that point, the federal ban on single-use plastics will have been put into effect, so any replacements of stock will then be made of paper,” said Gordon.

Gordon says that students, staff, and faculty should begin to expect paper products after the federal ban. He says that when the paper is recycled and then turned into other paper products, less energy is expended across the board.

Gordon explained that because of the ban, all TRU Food Services locations will offer bamboo cutlery after the stock is expended which can thankfully be composted at any of the Zero-Waste Stations on campus. Informational posters at or around the Zero-Waste Stations have been updated to reflect the fact that bamboo and wooden cutlery can be composted.

Gordon says that although changes are being made to campus because of the ban, “the point of the Reusable Cutlery Program is to encourage people to use their own, bring their own, and wash their own. No matter if you’re using single-use plastic cutlery or single-use bamboo cutlery, you are still creating unneeded waste.”