Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.01
Liaison Rebecca Walker
Submission Date April 13, 2022

STARS v2.2

Southern Oregon University
IN-47: Innovation A

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 0.50 Rebecca Walker
Sustainability Manager
Facilities, Management, Sustainability and Planning
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Dish Loan Program

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

Project Overview:
Southern Oregon University's Student Sustainability Resource Center (now Social Justice and Equity Center’s Student Sustainability Team, or SST) launched a Dish Loan Program in fall 2017. The Dish Loan Program is a free alternative for campus clubs, organizations, and departments to borrow plates, bowls, cups, mugs, and utensils for meetings and events. The program currently has more than 100 full sets of dishes available for loan, with no minimum order requirement. Students, faculty, and staff can submit a request to borrow dishes using an online order form. Borrowers are asked to clean dishes before they are returned. The dishes are later sanitized by the Student Sustainability Team in partnership with SOU Dining Services.

During its first year of operation, the Dish Loan Program has provided more than 11,000 dishes, cups, and utensils for campus events, meetings, and programs, greatly reducing waste from disposable dishware. In 2019, the Dish Loan Program provided more than 14,000 items to 19 organizations for more than 30 events and meetings.

Southern Oregon University (SOU) is located in a rural part of southern Oregon with fairly limited waste diversion opportunities. In southern Oregon, disposable dishware (no matter the material type) is destined for the landfill, as the region lacks any suitable composting system and plastic recycling is limited to bottles and rigid tubs. SOU's sustainability students and staff were concerned with the heavy use of disposable dishware on campus for events and programs. When SOU's Student Sustainability Resource Center (SSRC) was approached by campus catering services with a load of ceramic dishes that they were going to dispose of, SSRC recognized a grand opportunity to make these dishes available to campus groups for use at events, sparking the beginning of the Dish Loan Program's development.

Project Goals:
The goals of the Dish Loan Program are:
* To prevent and reduce waste from disposable dishware.
* To provide campus groups with FREE, sustainable dishware for events and programs.
* To promote reuse.
* To model zero waste.

Project Implementation:
The Dish Loan Program (DLP) was implemented by students, with staff support and guidance. Upon receipt of an initial donation of small plates and cups, students reached out to the campus and community seeking donations to build up an inventory before starting the program. The solicitation of donations was wildly successful and resulted in a program that has more than 100 full sets of dishware and dozens of cups and mugs.

All donations were collected, inventoried, and marked to identify them as part of the Dish Loan Program. Students then created an inventory spreadsheet, online request forms, an agreement form (signed by borrowers when they pick up dishes), return forms, and promotional posters, and outreach material to announce the program.

**How does the program work?**
Students, staff, and faculty submit a request to borrow dishes using an online Order Form where they identify their organization name, event name, date dishes are needed, the type and quantity of dishes they are seeking, preferred to pick up and return dates/times, and contact information. Once the online form is submitted, an email is sent to notify the program manager(s) that there is a new Dish Loan request. The program manager inputs the order into an excel inventory tracker to ensure that requested dishes are available for the dates specified. If the dishes are available, the order is put in to reserve the dishes. All dishes are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the availability of dishes is confirmed, the program manager(s) contacts the requester to confirm a pick-up time and location. On the date of pick up, a program manager prepares the order and a Check Out Agreement form. The borrower is asked to review and sign the Agreement to acknowledge and confirm the type of dishes being borrowed, quantity, dates, and that dishes are to be returned clean. Borrowers also provide a campus index code that may be charged in the event of lost, stolen or broken dishes.

Borrowers can return dishes to the Student Sustainability Team’s office during normal business hours. SST student staff complete an online Dish Return Form when dishes are returned to the office. The Return Form records who accepted the return, who brought the dishes back, the date and time of return, if the full order was returned, and if the dishes were clean. Two days a week, SST staff bring any returned dishes to SOU Dining Services to be commercially cleaned and sterilized to comply with health codes and regulations. The sanitized dishes are then placed back into the inventory available for use.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :

The website URL where information about the innovation is available :
Additional documentation to support the submission:

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