For two days last week, AVI removed all paper cups from Peirce Hall as part of a Student Council initiative to promote sustainability.
Both Student Council president Phoebe Roe ’16 and Matt Meyers ’17, co-president of Environmental Campus Organization (ECO) and sustainability chair for council, said feedback was mixed, with limited negative feedback beyond a few disgruntled comments from friends, perhaps because students were informed ahead of time through posters and emails.
Meyers said excessive paper cup use at Peirce wastes money and resources. Students typically use 1,500 to 3,000 paper cups from Peirce every day, and Meyers called this use a waste of resources.
“In terms of climate action, these are the small things that we can afford to go without,” Meyers said. On its website, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions defines climate action as a plan with concrete steps to reduce an institution’s contribution to climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Meyers, the council originally planned to remove paper cups from Peirce for an entire week, but the administration shortened the period without paper cups to two days, due to the high number of prospective students visiting early in the week.
Meyers hoped removing paper cups would encourage students to return borrowed dishes to Peirce.
Roe said removing the paper cups was an effort to tangibly address sustainability, driven by student feedback regarding sustainability as an increasing priority.
Sarah McPeek ’19, who will be a co-manager of the Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC) next year, expressed enthusiasm about the initiative.
“I did see lots of people using [plastic] cups or starting to bring their own things, which is what we want to encourage people to do,” McPeek said.
Roe suggested removing paper cups from Peirce entirely next year may be possible, especially if thermoses are distributed to students. The council will likely circulate a survey to gauge student reaction, according to Roe.