Sarah Zelman, SustainSU Reusable Dish program

Sarah Zelman was raised to appreciate nature. She comes from a family that maintains a lot of respect for the environment and the natural world.  She fondly remembers her mother always had a large garden and used cloth shopping bags. Her family was raised to live in a way that minimizes consumption and waste as much as possible. This upbringing helped to form her current interest in sustainability, which she translated into work on the Reusable Dish Program and SUSTAIN SU, the student sustainability service formerly known as ECOS, volunteer.

As Project Coordinator for SUSTAIN SU’s Reusable Dish Program during the 2010-2011 academic year, Zelman volunteered her time to lend out plates in food courts across campus during lunch hours to help reduce the amount of Styrofoam® and disposable dishware used at the University of Alberta. She also coordinated the exceptionally popular event- rental service which provides sanitized reusable dishes for conferences, meetings and other events held by students, staff and faculty on campus at no cost.

Despite being a young program in the 2010-11 academic year, some 12,734 dinner plates were lent out and the program continues to grow in popularity. More than 100 different groups and individuals rented dishes from SUSTAIN SU last year, up from 60 the previous year.

 “I think the thing that has been the most rewarding about the Reusable Dish Program is how much use of the program increased last year,” said Zelman. “The Reuse-a-Dish program in the SUB cafeteria became much more popular and our event rental program was continuously booked to capacity.”

Finishing up her last year of the civil engineering co-op program Zelman intends to keep sustainability as a strong priority in her future endeavours. She plans to work in the construction industry which she says “is not really known for its environmental efforts, so I hope to work at decreasing the environmental footprint of large-scale construction projects.”

In the meantime, she’ll continue her work with the Reusable Dish Program. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this popular and convenient service for your events/meetings/conferences, request your reusable dinner plates, appetizer plates, cups and pitchers early so as not to be disappointed. More information on the Reusable Dish Program is available on the SUSTAIN SU website

Email Ian Moore, SUSTAIN SU Director, to determine availability of their dishware.