Napkin change in Commons aims to help sustainability

Napkins are now in a new spot by the silverware. 

Diners in Upper Commons may have noticed that baskets of napkins are no longer on the tables. This was done to cut back on waste from the RWU community.

“We’re always trying to get students to not waste food,” said James Gubata, general manager of Commons. “It’s the same thing with the napkins too.”

Instead of a basket of napkins on every table, napkin dispensers are now located where the utensils are.

“We think that while it will cause a minor inconvenience the first few times someone goes [to] grab a napkin at the table, chances are they will be more frugal when they grab napkins,” Gubata said.

Gubata said he was inspired to do this after taking a trip to the dumpsters next to Commons.

“A few weeks ago, I did what we call ‘dumpster diving’ and when I looked in there, I was flabbergasted to find chunks of napkins,” Gubata said.

Gubata also said this is part of a larger effort by the Commons staff to be more sustainable.

“The university endeavors to be more sustainable,” Gubata said. “It’s just reminding people to be mindful [that] their personal choices do have an effect on global sustainability.”

According to Josh Hennessy, Upper Commons manager, the baskets of napkins also seemed to attract waste.

“If somebody spills their soda, the bottom half of the napkins get [wet] and we come along and have to throw away the wad,” Hennessy said.

He also went on to say he’s found food in the baskets as well.

“I’ve legit found grilled cheese in there,” Hennessy said. 

Hennessy supports the initiative to move the napkins. He hopes it will “spark the conversation and make us as individuals make the right choice.”

While the move will help cut back on waste, students have aired their complaints about the inconvenience on the suggestion board by the exit of Upper Commons.

“I think it’s a good idea in theory, but convenience wise, I think it’s dumb,” senior Grace Kenningham said. “If you’re sitting down, and you need a napkin for a messy taco, you’re… out of luck.”

Gubata said if students do not support the move, he would move the napkins back. However, he hopes grabbing a napkin at the same time as silverware becomes a “learned behavior.”

Other changes Commons has made include using less meat in their recipes, preventing waste in the kitchens and cutting back on plastic usage.