CLEVELAND- People across the country have made the push to “go green” -- and that includes some of Ohio’s colleges, too.

  • CSU is part of an effort to become more eco-friendly
  • The University shifted from plastic plates and cups to compostable tableware
  • CSU sees this effort as a lesson in collaboration

Officials with Cleveland State University are leading an effort for the campus of roughly 17,000 students to become more eco-friendly.

“Students had told me they had seen a lot of plastic waste coming out from catering across campus,” said CSU's director of sustainability Jennifer McMillin. 

After hearing that, she got to work.

She helped to spearhead a two-pronged approach aimed at reducing the waste that goes to landfills.

It all revolves around composting, or the process where certain materials are able to be turned into soil.

“We started off with a composting program for food waste, so dining was really helpful in getting a system put in behind the scenes so that any food waste from preparation was captured and composted," she said. "And then, about six months, later we opted to replace the plastic tableware that was used in catering with compostable products that were made out of paper, and corn, and sugarcane byproduct called bagasse.” 

The shift to compostable tableware began in 2018.

Now roughly a year into that effort, McMillin said it’s been a lesson in collaboration.

“There’s a lot of parties involved in making this happen," she said. "From the people who make the food, set up the events, clean away the trash at the end of the events. And if you can get everyone working together to have a conversation on how to do it better and take everyone’s opinions into consideration, you’re able to do really good things within an organization.” 

McMillin added students have given positive feedback about the switch, and said the cost for the new tableware is about the same as products used in the past.

And Cleveland State isn’t the only campus prioritizing the environment.

The Princeton Review releases a list of the most “green” colleges each year.

Ohio's Case Western Reserve University came in at #35 and Oberlin College landed at #45 on the most recent list.