With midterm exams looming and paper deadlines rapidly approaching, it’s no surprise that more students are turning to coffee to get their caffeine fix.
The University is one of 10 colleges participating in the first annual Kill the Cup University Challenge. The initiative is a sustainability effort aiming to have an environmental impact by reducing the number of disposable coffee cups used on campus. The competition began Oct. 6 and will last until Oct. 31.
Kill the Cup, a Social Ventures for Sustainability project, is partnered with Net Impact, a nonprofit organization through the Ross School of Business, and with Kill-A-Watt, which is an energy conservation effort at the University. Social Ventures for Sustainability, which is based in San Diego, is a nonprofit organization that partners with college campuses and communities to promote environmentally responsible behavior.
To participate in the competition, coffee shop customers have to bring their own reusable cups to on-campus coffee shops and upload a picture of their cups to KillTheCup.com. After uploading the pictures, participants are eligible to receive a prize.
After calculating the results, KillTheCup.com uses prizes and gift cards as incentives to encourage student participation. After the end of the campaign, the teams who achieve the highest participation will be eligible to receive a $5,000 grant to start and fund their personal sustainability project. Along with this grand prize, four weekly prizes of $50 and one iPad will be awarded for each individual campus.
Drew Beal, co-founder of SVS, said he likes to view the organization as a “social enterprise” because of the combination of social and environmental impacts. Beal said he hopes students, faculty and staff will gain a general awareness of the importance of sustainability that can result in a daily habit.
“They can learn that little adjustments to daily routine collectively, can have a huge impact on the environment,” Beal said.
Along with encouraging consumers to reuse coffee cups as a daily routine, Beal hopes that the Kill the Cup campaign will construct a new norm on college campuses across the country.
“If we can really celebrate the fact that more and more people are getting coffee in a reusable cup on a specific campus, then it will help establish a social norm within that university,” Beal said.
Beal and Mike Taylor, co-founder of Kill the Cup, started the program while in graduate school at the University of California, San Diego in 2013. They piloted the program last year at UCSD and decided to expand their outreach after an estimated 1,300 disposable coffee cups were saved, which translates to approximately 80 pounds of landfill waste.
“Not only were people bringing their own cup more frequently and there was a lot of excitement around sustainability, but the coffee shops we worked with also were more profitable,” Beal said.
Beal and Taylor implemented a four-week program at Georgetown University in the fall of 2013 to compare and validate their initial findings. Georgetown’s results were also positive, which resulted in Taylor and Beal pursuing this campaign into SVS.
Public Policy senior Kayla Ulrich, co-director of Kill-A-Watt at the University, said Beal contacted her and LSA senior Natalie Stevenson, co-director of Kill-A-Watt, and explained the details of the competition and the mission of SVS. Ulrich said this competition would expand the current sustainability movement at the University and “bring something new and fun to campus.”
While there are many different sustainability efforts on campus, Ulrich said Kill the Cup is different than others because the results are concrete since Kill the Cup’s focus is waste reduction.
“Because we are talking about cups, I think that it is a lot more relevant and more tangible. People will be able to relate to it much better,” Ulrich said.