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DishZero is a student-led initiative that offers reusable takeout containers and mugs for the campus community to borrow for free through their campus vendor (restaurant) of choice.


DishZero aims to reduce the single-use waste associated with takeout dining on campus by providing a dish-sharing system that is as convenient to use as its disposable counterpart. A dish-sharing initiative eliminates the barriers to waste reduction experienced by those who have had difficulties going reusable in the past or who had never given it much thought. 

Our team created DishZero with the intent of expanding the dish share program across North Campus and beyond. 

DishZero aims to uplift our campus community and place a spotlight on our campus’ diverse talents. As such, all research, logistical planning, graphic design, and software development have been conducted by UAlberta students and alumni. We anticipate that our campus-based approach will allow us to better connect with students and staff and therefore increase uptake of our services. 


1. Create a reusable dish-share program that is as convenient as possible to maximize its usage by the campus community (and therefore maximize waste reduction). 

2. Use a “by campus, for campus” approach by: 

a. Sourcing all talent and core members from University of Alberta students or recent grads; 

b. Utilizing as much pre-existing campus infrastructure as possible;

c. Designing DishZero’s operations around the campus community’s needs as determined by direct consultation. 


3. Divert at least 20% of all daily single-use takeout container and mug waste in participating pilot buildings. 


4. Reach at least 15 use cycles per dish for all dishes within the first year of the pilot program. 


5. Use the data, insights, and knowledge accumulated from DishZero’s design and the first year of the DishZero pilot to act as a guiding and consultation resource for other organizations and institutions that want to launch their own dish share program. 


Unfortunately due to the rise in green consumerism and ecological marketing, being ecologically conscious has been affiliated with people of higher socioeconomic status. This project tries to foster inclusivity and socio-economic equality by tying social sustainability with the third pillar of sustainability: financial sustainability. Providing equal access to ecologically sustainable behavior is integral to fostering social sustainability. This project lends its containers at no charge to users. The cost of the original container is only collected for missing and broken items. Additionally, this project has purposefully been made accessible to anyone interacting with the campus. Students and staff are able to use this program. This ensures that everyone is able to participate in ecological choices, regardless of their status on campus or prior sustainability knowledge, while fostering a sense of community. 

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