Kenyon markets itself as a community that is thirsty for literature, but a more traditional thirst is causing the College’s dining services provider with a new headache: a major shortage of plastic, washable cups.
Kim Novak, AVI’s resident director at Kenyon, said that every year Peirce starts out with about 2,500 plastic cups. On Aug. 7 of this year, Peirce ordered 1,200 new cups to meet that number, to ensure that students might enjoy a cold beverage alongside their hot meal.
But when Novak inventoried cups on Monday of this week, she discovered something shocking.
“You won’t believe how many cups we have,” she said. “150 cups are left.”
“They’re in rooms, they’re in people’s cars or they get thrown away,” Novak said of the missing cups. “And not only are we down cups, but we’re down to 242 spoons. We started with 2,000.”
Because of the lack of plastic cups, which cost 90 cents each to replace, Peirce has started providing paper cups. Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman told the Collegian in September 2011 that the College would no longer replace any plastic cups taken from Peirce.
“I find it very annoying, because you can put a lot more liquid in the plastic cups than the paper ones, and it’s a lot more renewable to be able to put a plastic cup and wash it, than to take a paper cup and throw it away, ” Meg Thornbury ’16 said.
With the recent dearth of plastic cups, some 4,000-5,000 paper cups are used each week, each one costing approximately 5 cents.
Kenyon’s cup crisis has not just affected the students.
“When we keep [the plastic cups] and we wash them, it’s paying the dishroom people, human beings, to wash and recycle cups,” Novak said. “I’d rather pay the labor to employees and keep the economy going, and keep the plastic cups going, than to keep ordering paper cups. By keeping plastic cups, students are not only hurting themselves, but they’re also hurting the very people that ensure that they have food to eat and things to eat on or with.”
She added that “the paper cups are the most expensive ones in the long run.”
Matthew Meyers ’17 said he felt “guilty” about the usage of paper cups.
“There is an art display showing how we use paper cups, but we’re not supplied with plastic cups to use,” he said.
The art exhibition, which was installed in Peirce by Brett Miller ’15 and the members of the Environmental Campus Organization, consists of 1,667 used paper cups, equaling the total number of Kenyon students on campus.
AVI is asking that students return any cups or other dishes that have been taken so they do not need to order more cups and students will not have to use the unwanted paper cups.
“Tell people that there are AVI bins everywhere and they, the cups, go back to Peirce magically,” Thornbury said.