Save a Cup, Save the Planet (and $0.35)

08 Mar 2010
Save a Cup, Save the Planet (and $0.35)
By: Kavita Rodgers

Few things are more comforting on a cold winter morning than a cup of hot coffee in your hands. ISU Dining caters to the caffeine needs of its patrons, with eight on-campus cafes where one can grab a quick cup of “Joe”. However, in the past two years, it was found that paper coffee cups were among the most discarded products in trash from campus. Between July ’08 and June ’09 alone, over 400,000 cups were used and discarded on campus. This equates to six tons of waste.

In keeping with the vision of ISU’s Live Green initiative, ISU Dining is launching an updated re-usable cup program this spring. Customers who bring in their own cup to ISU Dining retail locations will receive a $.35 discount on hot beverages and fountain drinks. ISU Dining tumblers are also available for purchase in retail locations for $9.99 and your first fill of brewed coffee or hot tea is free.

“In 2007 we realized we needed a more sustainable approach,” said Nancy Levandowski, ISU Dining Director. “We have had a re-usable cup program in place for several years, but we’re now taking it to the next level. Customers can purchase our cups or bring in their own. We want this to be something that’s easy for our customers and becomes a habit for all of us.”

Complementary to the re-usable cup program, Caribou Coffee, located in The Hub, also sells reusable coffee sleeves so that those who don’t bring in their own tumbler can still actively be involved with the Live Green initiative by saving the disposable paper cup sleeve.

“It’s such an easy thing to do, bringing your own cup with you,” said Merry Rankin, Sustainability Director for ISU. “But, it could make such a huge difference if you think about it,” she added, pointing out that if each of the 27,000 students at ISU – not to mention faculty and staff – saved on at least a cup a day, the impact would be huge. “ISU Dining has been extremely proactive in its support of the sustainability program,” Rankin commented.

“The main idea behind the program is to make things reusable. That way we can get rid of all the trash,” said Wanda Mortvedt, Food Service Coordinator at the Gerdin Business Café. “Plus there’s a discount for bringing your own mug, or using one you’ve bought from us.”

Students are also seeing the benefits of bringing their own mugs. Marketing senior, McKenzee Fisher, said that the discount wasn’t the only reason she uses her own mug.

“I carry it because it keeps my drink warm for longer,” she explained.

ISU Dining has been steady in its support of the transition to a sustainable, more environmentally-friendly campus. Farm to ISU (local-food purchasing program), composting biodegradable wastes from large dining locations and becoming a tray-free campus by August 2010 are just a few of the initiatives that support the Live Green mission.

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