Student Stories: Plant science major helps create sustainable takeout containers

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — With the help of Keirstan Kure, Penn State Food Services created the Green2Go container, a reusable takeout box that replaces the need for Styrofoam cartons in campus dining halls.

Kure, a senior plant sciences major with minors in international agriculture and geography, worked as the sustainable food programmatic intern at the Sustainability Institute on campus.

"I was looking for a new project to work on in October 2013 and caught wind of a new, reusable takeout container project that Food Services was working on," she said. "Because the idea was so new, they did not have any students involved and offered me a position to work on the project, not yet named Green2Go."

Kure's duties as an intern consisted of creating a name and brand for the reusable takeout container, putting together marketing materials and promotions, figuring out the logistics of running this type of program, and educating employees and students on how the program would run.

Kure, who hails from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, worked with her partner for the project, Emily Newman, senior environmental resource management major in the College of Agricultural Sciences to develop the Green2Go brand. The two ran the pilot program in Pollock Dining Commons during the second half of the spring 2014 semester.

"At the end of my sophomore year, my internship was over, and I was leaving to study abroad in the fall of 2014," Kure said. "Due to the success of the pilot program, Food Services wanted the program to run in all five dining halls and created the position of sustainability coordinator for Emily and me to continue working on Green2Go and other sustainability initiatives."

In the past two years, Kure and Newman have watched the program grow from a pilot project in Pollock Dining Halls to a campus-wide program. Kure stated that Green2Go boxes are the only takeout containers in Redifer Commons, which will eliminate the need to discard 297,000 Styrofoam containers this year.

"When we first sat down to research similar programs at other universities and tried to come up with a name, we had no idea how big the program would get or if it would even be successful," Kure said.

"However, we dreamed that one day, most likely after we graduated, that the entire campus would be rid of Styrofoam containers. It has been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience to grow this project from the ground up, and after two years, Penn State is moving away from using Styrofoam containers in the dining commons."

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Last Updated February 15, 2016