Eating at Canada’s Capital University is a culinary-driven experience, led by a team of chefs who are passionate about transforming local authentic ingredients into delicious and healthy meals. We are continually refining our ability to offer options that are both exciting and accommodating to dietary needs while taking into account the environmental and social impacts of our food.

Carleton Dining Services’ sustainability efforts extend past the food we serve. Our operations are committed to fighting waste in its many forms, using a variety of technologies, programs, and practices. From farm to fork and beyond, the story behind each plate we serve is one of environmental and social stewardship.

Discover more about how we facilitate a sustainable dining experience

Local and Sustainable Ingredients

Investing in the Carleton Community

We support the Ottawa community by sourcing ingredients from local farmers and producers whenever possible. Our chefs take into account seasonal produce availability when developing recipes, ensuring local offerings are part of our menus year-round. Some of Ottawa’s oldest family-run producers, such as Rideau Bakery and Slipacoff’s Premium Meats, provide Carleton’s kitchens with ingredients on a weekly basis.

Fair Trade

Carleton is proud to be a Fair Trade Designated campus. All of our coffee is Fair Trade as well as a selection of tea, chocolate, and other products. Look for the Fairtrade logo on and off campus when shopping to identify products produced in a sustainable manner. Carleton, along with dozens of universities and colleges across the country, participates in the annual Fair Trade Campus Week. This year, FTCW is taking place October 28th – November 1st, 2019. Stay tuned for more details!

Waste Reduction

Zero-Waste Facilities

We operate two Certified Zero-Waste facilities on campus: the caf and the Food Court.
These locations are audited by a third-party organization who assesses if waste is being placed in the proper stream (organics, recycling, landfill). ‘Zero-Waste’ status indicates 90% or more of total waste is being diverted away from landfill.

Waste Diversion Walls

We have made recycling easy by installing waste diversion walls across campus. The walls feature a physical piece of each type of packaging used in the dining location, with each piece of packaging hung above the proper waste stream. These visually engaging walls provide all the information a customer needs to correctly dispose of their waste, eliminating the guesswork often associated with recycling.


Coffee cups are the most common item in campus trash cans. Our Lug-a-Mug program helps wipe out waste by incentivizing the use of a personal reusable cup. Bring a reusable mug to any Dining Services location on campus and receive a $0.25 discount! If you buy a coffee every day with a reusable mug at Carleton Dining Services locations, you’ll be receiving a FREE cup of coffee every other week from the Lug-a-Mug savings

How can you… eat more sustainably?

Buy local/seasonal/organic food

Buying locally grown food directly supports local farmers and keeps cash in the local economy. Locally produced food is more likely to be farmed in a socially sustainable way, and on local levels it is possible to know how produce and meat has been grown or raised.

Buying organic can also make a difference as this mode of farming avoids chemical pesticides that leach into the soil and pollute the ground and water. Additionally, organic farms do not use antibiotics or inject their animals with steroids, thus making organic farming more environmentally friendly than traditional factory farming.

What can you do?

  • Center your meals on seasonal ingredients, which are more likely to be grown closer to home
  • Check your grocery stores for organic produce section
  • Attend the weekly farmer’s markets in the Ottawa region

Eat one or more vegetarian meal than you normally would

Vegetarian diet requires the least amount of fossil fuels to produce and therefore results in the least amount of greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere. Meat production requires far more land and water to produce than vegetarian foods, so by simply reducing your meat consumption you can have a great positive environmental impact.

What can you do?

  • Try replacing one meal a week with a meatless equivalent

Start a kitchen compost bin

Over 36 million tons of food waste reaches our landfills each year, about six times the mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza. When food is thrown into landfills, it rots and becomes a significant source of the greenhouse gas methane.

However, as food is for the most part organic, there is no need to send food waste into landfills. Composting food waste can return valuable nutrients into the soil, reduce the volume of our landfills, and reduce the amount of chemicals leached from landfills.

Take your own reusable bags when grocery shopping

Canadians consume around 14 billion plastic bags every year. To produce these bags, Millions of gallons of water and crude oil are used every year. But the problem with plastic bags does not end with its production: once in a landfill, most plastic bags are likely to never fully biodegrade. Instead, tiny toxic particles break away from the bags and leach into our soil and water supplies. Plastic bags are also dangerous for wildlife. Reusing plastic bags or using reusable bags can help reduce the effects of plastic bag use.

What can you do?

  • Purchase your own reusable bags, and remember to take them next time you go shopping
  • At some stores, using reusable bags gives you a discount off of your purchase and saves you money
  • If you forget your reusable bag, save the plastic bags from the grocery store and recycle them at the store when you return

Eat food before it spoils

Only take what you know you will eat. According to the American EPA, food scraps account for 13.9% of our garbage. Around 30-40% of the food produced in Canada is thrown away, so by consciously choosing food and eating it before it spoils, you can take control of a large portion of the waste you produce. All food takes resources to produce, and so we can make our resource use more efficient by eating everything we purchase.

What can you do?

  • At a restaurant or buffet, take only what you can eat
  • When at the grocery store, buy only what you can eat in the week or store safely
  • Make a plan of what you will eat each week to make your grocery shopping and food use more efficient
  • Use “bad” vegetables or meat scraps to create broths for soups or other dishes

Take the Sustainability Pledge