Mason Van Horn is a senior at ETSU majoring in music with a concentration in vocal performance.

It is a new year for ETSU dining and students are lining up to have the Sodexo food experience.

After ETSU’s contract with Aramark was not renewed a few months ago, Sodexo Quality of Life services came in and revamped what ETSU had known as college dining.

This new season for the campus culinary world includes an updated menu, cozy tables, booths, lounge seating areas and a refreshing new coat of paint.

With these new features, one new amenity is causing quite a stir. ETSU is now the home to the Coca-Cola freestyle fountain. This soda dispenser allows you to select your favorite fountain drink from a myriad of Coke brands and flavors.

Students who purchase a fountain drink may receive one fill per cup, but for those that are enthusiastic about having several somethings to drink, this may not be enough.

Sodexo’s solution to this problem is a reusable bottle; however, it comes with an upfront cost of around $50. This item’s addition to the food service at ETSU has sparked controversy among students, faculty and staff alike – “Is it really worth the investment?”

While this is a valid question, I would like to look at the opportunities a student has to save money and cut back on waste.

For the initial investment, you receive a clear plastic water bottle which you can refill every ten minutes from any of the freestyle soda machines in the D.P. Culp University Center, The Treehouse, and The Garage C-Store.

There will be those who argue the bottles are too expensive, yet with the average cost of a soda being about $2, after 50 visits to one of these freestyle soda machines a student could have saved the same amount that they paid. Each visit after that, the patron would just be reaping the harvest.

In addition to saving money, the student would also be reducing on paper and plastic waste materials. If one student ate in the food court and purchased a drink four times a week, 15 weeks a semester for four years, that would be 480 paper cups or plastic bottles that could contribute to another garbage island in the middle of the ocean.

So whether you are craving a cold Coke or just wanting to save money and reduce waste, you might consider taking advantage of this new deal that could be a world changer.