BY: MARY BYRNE
As part of the effort to promote an eco-friendly lifestyle, Loyola banned the sale of water bottles on campus in 2012 and has been switching to an eco-friendly hand soap in campus restrooms since 2008. Now, hoping to promote the same message to his peers, senior Kevin Brannon has brought a nationwide contest to Loyola that will encourage students to lose the paper cup, and invest in reusable mugs.
The campaign, called Kill the Cup, began Monday, Oct. 6 and will continue throughout the month, according to the campaign’s website.
Kill the Cup began as the project of a graduate student in California looking for ways to reduce the amount of coffee cup waste around the University of California, San Diego campus, Brannon said. This year, the campaign turned into a competition between multiple universities.
Other campuses that have registered to participate include Boston University, Villanova University, Georgetown University, Miami University, University of San Diego, California State University San Marcos and the University of Michigan.
The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) –– a grant program that has been providing students a budget for carrying out projects related to environmental concerns since 2013 –– is funding the Kill the Cup project at Loyola, according to Brannon.
The TGIF funding has been used to buy reusable mugs, which Brannon said he will hand out to students who want to participate.
Brannon, an environmental science major, said he hopes the campaign will offer a solution to the confusion that still exists over what can be recycled and composted.
“There are cups that Engrained sells that can be composted,” Brannon said. “But they usually don’t get composted. They just get tossed away.”
Gina Lettiere, a sustainability specialist at Loyola, served as staff adviser when Brannon applied to TGIF for funding for Kill the Cup.
Lettiere said she is pleased to see a concerted effort to raise awareness of the first R of sustainability on Loyola’s campus: Reduce.
“Think about all the fossil fuels that go behind the forestry of processing trees from a tree to a paper cup,” she said. “There are so many benefits in terms of not using those resources, which should be conserved for other products that are needed. A one-time coffee cup is not a necessity.”
— Plastic Pollutes (@PlasticPollutes) October 6, 2014
Senior Amber Vignieri said “coffee makes the world go round on a college campus,” so she can see how switching out disposable cups for reusable ones could make a huge difference.
“With so many students drinking so much coffee every single day, it’s easy to see what a huge impact they could make. Students probably know when they get up in the morning that they’re going to grab coffee on the way to class, so just by grabbing your mug as you run out the door, our campus could collectively save so much energy and so many resources,” said the 21-year-old environmental science major.
Mary Kate Clifton, 18, rarely purchases coffee, but she said she knows other students who do so on campus every day. Clifton said a campaign that encourages these students to consume in a greener way is in line with the path Loyola has been taking.
“Our university thoroughly promotes its greenness,” said the freshman special education major. “I think it’s important [for students] to carry this out in as many ways as possible.”
The contest has two parts. The first part is the reusable cup rate, which Aramark is responsible for documenting.
“Aramark keeps track of how many coffees they serve, and they will also keep track of how many they serve in a reusable mug,” he said. At the end of every day, they will divide the number of reusable mugs by the number of cups sold, Brannon said.
This means that if 50 reusable mugs are used per 1,000 drinks served, then Aramark will report a reusable cup rate of 5 percent.
Right now, the national standard for reusable cups is at 2 percent, he said. He explained that this means that two percent of beverage sales, whether they are at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, are served in reusable cups. Loyola is at 1.8 percent, which leaves Loyola slightly below the national average.
There’s a reward in it for the universities with the best participation rates, Brannon said.
Between Monday and Friday every week in October, anyone who purchases coffee at Loyola using a reusable mug can take a photo of it and upload it to KillTheCup.com. Each photo is worth five points, and at the end of every week, the Loyola student with the most points will receive a $50 Visa gift card.
At the end of the month, the participant with the most points will receive an iPad, and the university with the most points will receive a $5,000 grant to help fund another sustainability-related project.
Aramark is also providing incentive to students to use reusable mugs, Brannon said. Coffee served in a reusable mug will only cost $1, and speciality drinks, like lattes, will be sold with a $1 discount.
Senior Bill Theis, 22, said he thinks students will get involved and excited this contest.
“I think that this will increase their interest in using reusable mugs,” said the Ad/PR major. “They’re so much better because they keep your drinks colder or hotter. Also, I think once students try out a reusable mug, they’ll get used to it and give up single-use cups.”