By contributor Chantelle Spicer
During the fall term of 2014, the members of Solutions: A Sustainability Network reflected on consumption habits: their own and the habits of the entire VIU campus. They were interested in where consumption had the largest impact and how that could be minimized. Major contributors brought to the table were food waste, recyclables that wind up in garbage cans, and paper coffee cups.
The last one struck a chord, especially after the group worked so hard on the “Ban the Bottle” campaign in 2011 and had a serious impact on bottled water on campus. Encouraging the use of reusable water bottles and having fill stations installed, plus the support of all sectors of the university, turned a seemingly insurmountable task into a clear win for sustainability.
Solutions members, in the time honoured tradition of the new year, are making another major change and asking for assistance from their fellow VIU students. The call to arms they brought to the bottled water issue is turning its attention to paper cups. The “Love a Mug” campaign will encourage students and staff to bring their own favourite refillable travel and coffee mugs to campus, and leave paper cups on coffee shop counters.
A consumer purchasing even one paper cup of coffee or tea per day creates 23 pounds of waste in a year. Through awareness-raising campaigns, events, and contests, Solutions members hope to see an end to the sale of paper cups on campus in the coming year.
Members of the club can be found tabling events in both the cafeteria and Jumpin’ Java during January and February to discuss the benefits of reusable cups, and offering chances to win gift certificates and mugs. Keep an eye out for the photo contest on the Facebook page where you can post your visual love for your favourite mug. Used papers cups will be collected from all corners of the university and assembled into an art display that demonstrates the amount of cups going to waste.
More information about the impact of disposable cups is available online. For more information about upcoming events and projects, or to add your talents to this campaign, email firstname.lastname@example.org. With your support and assistance, a massive change can be made to sustainability on VIU’s campus in 2015.