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A Lunch Service For The Planet

For several years, the online learning company lynda.com has provided free daily lunch for employees. Now the Carpinteria-based company is helping employees Ditch Plastic by piloting a reusable container system for those who want to take their lunch to-go.

Knowing that the average American produces around 475 pounds of food-related waste per year, the company – on advice from CEC – recently decided to bring in BizeeBox, a start-up company that designs and implements reusable takeout container programs to help businesses reduce waste from disposable containers.

Breanne Offerman, manager of the Hospitality and Lunch Program says, “We try to ensure that our lunches are as environmentally friendly as possible, so we find local vendors who use local ingredients.” However, lunch staff noticed that many employees liked to take food from the cafeteria back to their desks to eat, which caused an increase in disposable container waste.

“We tried to solve the problem by getting rid of anything plastic, and switched to compostable goods,” said Facilities Supervisor Dana Jennings, but she wanted to do better. She considered buying reusable containers for lynda.com’s 300+ employees until CEC staff connected Dana – a member of CEC’s Partnership Council – with BizeeBox.

“Not only was BizeeBox a local start-up, but their program was innovative and very easy to implement,” says Breanne. Having multiple collection bins allows the facilities team to organize a pick-up from each bin once a day, where about 200 containers are taken to be washed on site every evening, saving transportation resources. “Even with the additional cost of sanitization, implementing BizeeBox still made the most economic sense to us,” says Dana.
In fact, she says, the staff love the containers because they make transporting food easier, and keep food fresh longer than the compostable containers did. She also says that the new system “contributes to a collective feeling of sustainability, because people are now more aware of what they are throwing away and what they are not.”

Since lynda.com has made a pledge to be as sustainable as possible, they urge other companies to adopt sustainable practices as well. “There is so much waste in the world,” said Breanne, “It’s nice to know that you are doing your part to reduce.”

This is not the first time lynda.com has made improvements on sustainability at the suggestion of CEC. In 2013, lynda.com installed an EV charging station to help alleviate their environmental impact based on the amount of employees who commuted by car to work. Since the installation, 10 employees have purchased electric cars and others report that they will consider one for their next car purchase and they have installed two additional electric chargers since then. They have helped employees Choose Electric and Ditch Plastic – keep up the great work.

 

Heather Goold

Heather Goold is currently a junior at UCSB, pursuing a degree in both political science and philosophy. She hopes to attend law school upon her graduation in 2016.
Heather Goold

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