Starting at the end of the fall semester, both campus Shake Smart locations introduced eco-friendly utensils and will begin allowing customers to bring their own cups and bowls in an effort to reduce waste.
Shake Smart San Diego Regional Manager Hilary Thielscher said the restaurant had been discussing the idea of using more environmentally friendly utensils options for some time. The spoons and straws, purchased from Greeno, were finally implemented after requests from students and management looking to introduce new ideas.
“I 100 percent think every eatery on campus should have eco-friendly supplies,” business junior and Shake Smart employee Blake Nicholas said. “I think students are for sure more inclined to shop at Shake Smart when we have more environmentally friendly options.”
Thielscher said she thinks Shake Smart will look to introduce even more eco-conscious plastics and supplies as the newly introduced straws and spoons become more readily available. The plastic cups and bowls currently used by the company to package its smoothies and acai bowls are all already 100 percent recyclable.
Shake Smart was founded by two SDSU students, Martin Reiman and Kevin Gelfand, in 2011. The chain has since expanded to 13 locations across six states, and there are plans to have 20 stores open by 2020, according to a university press release. Reiman and Gelfand were also featured on the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 List in the Food & Drink category.
“We are very excited about the new changes, it’s been a long time in the making,” Thielscher said. “We are just proud to be able to say that we are making changes in a more eco-friendly direction.”
The global biodegradable plastics market is projected to reach $6.73 billion by 2025, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc. published in July 2018. This industry owes its success to increasingly strict government regulations prohibiting conventional plastics as well as a growing consumer awareness regarding the ill-effects of plastic waste. SDSU students are also making changes to their lifestyles to help reduce plastic waste.
“Students always use the eco-friendly straws when they’re available,” Nicholas said. “They (now) even bring their own cups sometimes.”
Shake Smart isn’t the only restaurant on campus to begin moving in a more eco-friendly direction when it comes to conventional plastics. Energy and Sustainability Officer Tom Abram said SDSU has worked with eateries in East Commons to move straws and utensils behind the counter, where they will only be provided upon request.
While restaurants carry the bulk of the burden when it comes to reducing waste, Abram said students can make quick and easy lifestyle changes to aid the effort.
“Bring reusable straws, silverware and bottles,” said Abram. “Sustainable SDSU has promotional silverware and straw pouches that we will be providing to students at various events.”