To encourage the use of reusable coffee mugs as a means of decreasing environmental impact, the Office of Sustainability will soon give the more environmentally friendly mugs to anyone who signs a pledge to use one instead of disposable cups. The “Green Mug Campaign” looks to raise awareness of the environmental impacts of disposable coffee cups, and how simply not using them is considerably more sustainable.
“To create disposable coffee cups, it takes energy, natural resources, water, etc. through extraction, manufacturing, transportation, retail, and other processes in order to get that cup in your hand,” says Adam Maurer, the Colleges’ sustainability manager. “Reusable mugs can be used over and over again, significantly decreasing these environmental impacts. By using reusable mugs, we decrease our trash to the landfill, helping both the environment and our trash disposal costs as an institution.”
“It’s an easy first step for everyone interested in helping the earth,” explains Professor of Economics Thomas Drennen, who is chair of the Environmental Studies program. “The paper cups require the use of virgin trees and are coated with an oil-based plastic. Using just one cup a day creates about 23 pounds of waste per year. Just cutting down on throwing that one cup away would be a great way to start each morning! Not only will you feel better about helping the environment, but you’ll save money.”
The Green Mug Campaign will use posters, emails, and tabling to educate people about these environmental impacts. The program was inspired by concerned students, faculty and staff who brought the volume of disposable cups used on campus to the attention of the Climate Task Force. The task force is a 14-member committee of faculty, staff and students that oversees the planning and implementation of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment with the immediate goal of delivering Hobart and William Smith Colleges to climate neutrality.
“It is both environmentally and economically responsible for individuals to use – and for the Colleges to encourage – reusable mugs on our campus,” explains Maurer. “Many of us would like to see significantly more reusable mugs around this campus and it is our hope that this campaign is one step in that direction.”