Caroline Pittard, Office for Sustainability Student Employee
Over the past decade, University Dining has taken strides towards providing more sustainable and healthier options for students and staff alike. The recent revamp of the “Castle” into a vegan-friendly hub, promotional events such as Meatless Mondays in dining halls, and University farmers markets all point towards progress in the arena of sustainable food. The recent opening of a second Charlottesville location of The Juice Laundry in the space that was once occupied by Freshens in the University Aquatic and Fitness Center (AFC, pictured above) poses new and exciting possibilities for not only sustainability but also community integration and collaboration.
The Juice Laundry (TJL) was founded in Charlottesville by none other than UVA alumni, Mike and Sarah Keenan. The juice and smoothie restaurant embodies their mission to keep our bodies and our planet clean. By using all organic, vegan, and reliably sourced food products, committing to entirely compostable utensils and dishes, and incentivizing reuse with their bottle return discount, TJL is a model business for all things sustainability and health. Students of UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce have historically engaged in projects with the Juice Laundry in which they pinpoint areas of improvement for the business model and work out ways to practically implement these new ideas. Given the quality of the products and commitment to compostable goods, the prices of Juice Laundry products can typically seem quite high to students. In response, Commerce students helped to create a transparent pricing model and sign that explains each component of the overall price and what it pays for. The sign currently hangs in all locations of the Juice Laundry and has received overwhelmingly positive support from customers.
The University has integrated The Juice Laundry in the AFC into parts of the dining plan, accepting the beloved plus dollars and Cav Advantage. Not only is the University supporting local, sustainable business in this way, but it is effectively incentivizing students to eat sustainability with the perks of plus dollars and easy access in the AFC. First years, in particular, find it hard to go grocery shopping or cook and find themselves tied to the constraints of their meal plans. Integrating alternative sustainable options into the meal plan perks is an innovative way to give students another option.
As a Global Sustainability major, OFS student employee, and long-time Juice Laundry staff member, it is safe to say that this establishment is truly dedicated to their values and mission. I have yet to meet a team member who is not passionate about the business model. Over the past year of working, I have watched The Juice Laundry collaborate with students of the Commerce School, employ student ambassadors, embrace UVa Dining initiatives, and open their newest location in the AFC. Working with both the University itself and this local business has allowed me to see the value in connecting the two in order to promote and incentivize sustainability across Charlottesville.