But that strategy is the most economical solution to CDS' inability to use dishwashers due to the drought, said Mike Freeman, a UNC auxiliary services representative.
The University is able to save about 100,000 gallons of water per week by not using the dishwashers in Lenoir Dining Hall and Chase Hall, Freeman said.
The University might be saving water, but it is not saving money. In fact, CDS is spending an additional $5,000 per week to use styrofoam, Freeman said.
Freeman said CDS officials considered using paper plates but decided against it because paper is much more expensive than styrofoam.
Using glossy paper plates that are sturdy enough to hold liquid would cost roughly $20,000 more per week, Freeman said.
"We can't afford to work on paper," he said. "We can't afford $5,000 -- there's no way we could afford $20,000."
Inexpensive paper plates would cost closer to $10,000 more per week, but Freeman said many students would use two or three plates to make them sturdier, which would push the additional cost up to between $20,000 and $30,000 per week and triple the amount of waste.
But some students said that while they understand the University's plight, they believe there are better options available.
Senior Reena Arora, a political science major, said she is passionate about the fight to discontinue the use of styrofoam. "Who uses styrofoam in 2002? Everyone knows it's an environmental hazard."