Santa Clara, California's red-and-green corps is going even greener this year.

This summer marks the 50th anniversary for Santa Clara Vanguard, and the corps is looking to maximize productivity while minimizing its carbon footprint.

Currently running a pilot program during spring training that utilizes reusable plates and cups to help feed the corps, staff and members of SCV are eliminating about one-third of the trash they usually produce.

Vanguard director of programs Shaun Gallant says the idea stemmed from SCV's Open Class corps.

“The Vanguard Cadets already do this on a smaller scale,” Gallant said. “So the initial idea came in addition to wanting to reduce trash and be more environmentally friendly.”

The cups and plates were first shown early in the season on Vanguard's Twitter page.


The collapsible design of the reusable cups, which are also used by corps members during rehearsals, works to save space when stored away. They're also very cost-effective, Gallant says.

“The cadet corps already owned the plates and the drying racks so for us it's reduced our cost to feed the corps during spring training,” he said. “As you can imagine when using disposable products, it's 200+ plates for 4 meals a day, and we always try to buy eco-friendly materials which are more expensive.”

Gallant says the corps will use the reusable cups throughout the entire season, and the decision to continue using the reusable plates will be weighed with feedback from corps members.

“Our original plan was to switch back to disposable plates as we started our more rigorous tour schedule,” he said. “But we've been polling corps members for feedback so that they're playing a significant role in the decision on how long we're going to run this program.”

Santa Clara Vangaurd's reusable cups are collapsible for easy transport and storage.

Regardless, Gallant said the corps has made a big difference in a short amount of time. “Even five weeks has made a huge difference,” he said.

Along with the reusable cups and plates comes a “you use it, you wash it” rule for members and staff, which Gallant said is beneficial because it encourages responsibility. And as part of the new mealtime procedures, Vanguard has put an emphasis on training and oversight to ensure proper hygiene with cleaning up the dishes.

“We have someone stationed at the dish-washing area to make sure the corps members are doing a thorough job,” Gallant said. “We're very aware of making sure the kids are washing and disinfecting things properly to keep everyone healthy.”

Looking forward, Gallant said SCV's 50th year is a milestone which calls for new and innovative ways to make future tours more sustainable.

“Coming into our 50th year, we were looking for ways to revamp things across the organization,” he said. “The cups and plates are a part of that.”