By Sarah Martinez, Sustainability Ambassador
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, before you recycle you should consider reducing and reusing. In this case that means reducing the amount of disposable coffee cups you use by using a reusable cup or mug. It’s a simple way to reduce waste, and we want everyone to join the movement and participate in the University of Utah Cup Project.
The University of Utah Cup Project had modest beginnings in the ever-ominous Building 73 (the old Law school building) in this spring semester’s Environmental Studies capstone class. The team, Hailey Schiff, Annaka Egan, Rachael McFall and myself, had a common goal of reducing unnecessary waste here on campus. We surmised that coffee is one of the largest commodities consumed, since many students on campus begin their busy day with a nice “cup of joe;” we figured we’d start there.
Disposable coffee cups seem harmless (Ha!), but don’t be fooled. Due to their dual wax and paper design, they are unable to be recycled so they hop a one-way train to the nearest landfill without the possibility of being recycled. I know, sad face. On average, Americans create nearly 4.4 pounds of waste per day, and we’re hoping to eliminate at least disposable coffee cups from this number. So join us in our attempt at making that daily routine just a little bit more sustainable. The University of Utah Cup Project, is our way of trying to incentivize the demise of the paper coffee cup- MWAHAHA.
In this day and age, social media reigns supreme. It has proven time and time again to be a powerful catalyst for social change. So we wondered, how can we leverage social media to engage our campus and to encourage sustainable behavior when incentivized? Thus, here we are, and we need your help to answer this question.
Joining is so simple it hurts. In order to participate, snap a shot of you and your mug/thermos/carrying cup of choice at a coffee joint, use our hashtag (#Ucupproject with a capital U), and you’re entered into the competition. That’s it. Many of you will be able to win prizes for doing something you already do, and for those of you who haven’t glommed on to a thermos yet, here is your chance to pick up a good habit! The contest ends next Friday, April 25, so hurry and enter for your chance to win!
You might be asking, “You mean that’s all I have to do?” Yeah, man! Easy as pie and potentially just as delicious if you win one of our gift cards to a local coffee shop around Salt Lake. Prizes also include those super hip, really functional, water bottles…what are they called again? Oh, right: Hydroflasks!
It isn’t without support that we embark on this small journey. We received a micro-grant form the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF), which allowed us to purchase our prizes. If you have a sustainable idea that will help our campus, check out SCIF!
So what are you waiting for? No seriously, stop staring at your computer reading this and go get coffee/tea/ whatever tickles your fancy with your reusable cup and snap a picture!
Sarah Martinez is a student sustainability ambassador for the Sustainability Office.