Every morning, students rush to Starbucks in Wold to get some coffee before their first class. The line is always enormous, stretching all the way down the hall. Sometimes, students purchase multiple cups of coffee a day to get their daily dosage of caffeine. The amount of paper and plastic cups that Starbucks uses on our campus a day creates a tremendous amount of excess waste.
Therefore, to combat this impractical waste issue, I would use the Green Grant to create reusable cups for Starbucks. There will be cups for hot and cold beverages. With the purchase of a cup (approximately 5-10 dollars), the amount of plastic and paper waste per day would be drastically decreased. To incentivize this, students who use their reusable coffee cups should receive some type of discount on their coffee. I think this idea is a quick, and cheap way to limit waste on campus.
Lately the topic of excess garbage, including food waste, has been a hot topic in the news because the destructive effects of excess waste are starting to affect health and safety of people. Excess waste has always been affecting our health and safety but until now the effects have not been so obvious. Excess waste causes air pollution, respiratory diseases, contamination of surface and ground waters and increased bacteria, insects and vermin urban centers. To help alleviate some of the stress on our environment caused by excess waste, I propose that each first year student receives a custom Union Tupperware container. This way the students can use the containers in Reamer for various food options; Rathskeller takeout; and in the dining halls so as to reduce the amount of to-go cups used as makeshift takeout containers. A typical square generic “Tupperware” container costs ~$1.00 so for an incoming class of ~700 students this would call for a grant of ~$750 for custom Tupperware containers. The waste we would be avoiding if this grant were to be granted would far out-cost the cost of the containers. Perhaps dining services could have some kind of program or contest once a term that incorporates the containers and when they hold their “pop-up” events, students should only be served if they have their reusable containers. Perhaps this would also encourage students to purchase more reusable containers and use less one-use containers!
The article I analyzed, entitled, Seven charts that explain the plastic pollution problem, by BBC News explains how plastic consumption, not only in the United States, but across the globe have a series of severe impacts on our environment, and maintain there for a plethora of years.
The article first explains the amount of plastic that have been produced to date of the article (December 2017). It has been recorded that 8.3bn tonnes of plastic had been produced, and as of 2015, only 9% was recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or in the natural environment. This vast amount of waste should not be extremely surprising, considering plastic products are usually ‘throwaway’ or ‘single use’ items.
Later in the article, it explains the amount of plastic that ends up in the sea. The article estimates that about 10m tonnes of plastic makes its way into the oceans annually. A study published by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and the University of Georgia in Athens conducted a survey which found that Asian nations were 13 of the 20 largest contributors to plastic waste in the oceans. Although the US was not the biggest contributor, we were still ranked in the top 20, meaning that we are not off the hook for ocean contamination.
The most interesting graph I found was a bar graph that estimates how long certain plastic products take to biodegrade. The graph shows that it takes 50 years for a Styrofoam cup to degrade. This basically means that everyday your morning coffee cup will stay in the environment for about half a century.
Source: Seven charts that explain the plastic pollution problem