Eastern should switch to refillable salt, pepper shakers

Jessica Stewart, Columnist

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One night, my friends and I were eating late night pizza at the Thomas Dining Hall when I noticed that the salt shakers were not refillable.

I tried to open it every way possible, but alas, the salt shakers are not refillable. This led me to wonder, are any of the salt or pepper shakers refillable?

The answer is no, they are not. Eastern uses single-use plastic salt and pepper shakers, and the funny thing is that it is actually costing them more money.

When I realized the shakers were not refillable, I decided to do my own research to see just how much money Eastern spends on salt and pepper in a year.

I found the brand name on the bottom of the shakers and looked up how much they cost online. I discovered the shakers Eastern gets only give six ounces per dollar in each, after researching the cost.

Buying salt and pepper from a restaurant distributor gives 22.4 ounces per dollar each. This is a significant difference in cost.

Granted, Eastern would have to purchase refillable shakers, and they would probably need to purchase at least double since some students steal them. But they would last much longer than the single-use shakers and would still save the university money.

I was also interested in figuring out how much money Eastern could save by not paying a student worker to walk around the dining halls and fill every salt and pepper shaker.

I walked around the entire dining hall to see how long it took someone to walk to every table in the room while my boyfriend timed me, and I’m sure it looked pretty odd to anyone who noticed.

Then, I pretended to refill a salt shaker and multiplied that time by every table in the room, and then I multiplied it by two to include pepper.

Adding a buffer zone, we figured out that it would take about 18 minutes for one student worker to refill every salt and pepper shaker in Thomas Dining. Eighteen minutes is equal to about 30 percent of an hour, which at minimum wage equals roughly $2.50.

Say the shakers need refilled three times daily (once for each meal). That only equals $7.50 a day, or roughly $1,200 over two semesters that Eastern would pay a student worker to refill the shakers.

While $1,200 seems like a lot of money, keep in mind that most of that time consists of the worker walking around the room, which they already do now anyway to replace empty shakers with full ones. And the money spent paying the student worker is still not as much as they would spend buying single-use shakers.

If Eastern switched to refillable shakers, they would also be helping the environment by reducing their use of single-use plastics.

Eastern should stop buying the single-use plastic salt and pepper shakers it gets now and instead purchase refillable shakers and salt and pepper in bulk.

While this doesn’t save the university an incredible amount of money, it does save them money that could go toward more important things. Who would’ve thought that Eastern could save money by buying different salt and pepper?

Jessica Stewart is a junior English major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].