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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Missing Wares Plague Cups Initiative

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As a result of last spring’s CSA elections, Carls voted to replace the compostable take-out cups in the dining hall with reusable cups. But students have not been returning the cups, casting doubt upon the new system.

“The incentives of this program are kind of wrong,” said senior Sarah Lukins, president of Students Organized for the Protect of the Environment (SOPE), and one of the key pushers behind the cups initiative. “What you are saying is basically: We are just going to give you these cups and you can do whatever you want with them, and then we are asking people to behave correctly.”

Bon Appetit initially purchased 1,200 cups for Burton and LDC, but the dining service no longer knows how many are in circulation, according to Lukins. There are no plans to add cups to the Sayles or Weitz cafes because these locations have guest customers who do not re- side on campus, meaning the cups would be less likely to be returned.

Bon Appetit recently ordered 3,800 more cups, a second order which was planned from the beginning of the initiative.

According to Bon Appetit board manager Jennifer Pope, “The current 1,200 was just sort of our initial order because we wanted to see where it would level out. Maybe 1,200 would have been enough, and we didn’t want to over order. We already had the purchase ready to go.”But Pope cautioned: “After the money runs out, we can’t just keep buying cups. That means its not a sustainable program–that the pro- gram’s not working. That’s why we need student involvement.”

The program’s challenges continue: in the initial order, a mistake on the vendors part left the school with prototype cups, which have the potentially confusing message ‘recycle’ printed on the side. The misprint, Lukins explained, along with the confusion that comes with using a new system, has resulted in custodians fishing cups out of the recycling, compost and garbage bins.

The cups can only be returned at Burton, LDC, Sayles, and the Weitz. Certain areas pres- ent a bigger problem for returning cups than others, Lukins pointed out. For instance, “the poor people in the library are getting all these cups,” she remarked. It seems whereas some students never return their cups, others attempt to return them in undesignated areas all over campus.

Lukins added: “Some people live in townhouses, and they are not on the 20 or 15 meal plan so they are not in here as regularly.” These students therefore do not have as many chances to return cups to their proper places.

Pope explained that the Bon Appétit staff do not have access to any of the residential areas, which rests the responsibility of returning the cups on the students. Students must start return- ing their own cups, or create a plan within the dorms to retrieve the cups.

SOPE members have discussed placing bins in dorms and creating a volunteer-based system to bring full bins back to the dining halls. However, Lukins said she feels dubious about the sustainability of a volunteer-based program.

Lukins highlighted a lack of ownership as the root of these issues. “It’s not really as effective as if, say, we decided instead to give students a cup at the beginning of the year and said this is your responsibility to take care of it, because then they have ownership in the program.”

In fact, this was one of the original models proposed to the CSA. Ironically, however, the model was not possible because a portion of the money to buy the cups was coming from the CSA itself, and CSA bylaws do not allow the association to spend money on personal property.

And yet, despite the current kinks in the sys- tems, Lukins remains positive.

The initiative helps the schools sustainabil- ity greatly, she said. The previously used take- out compostable cups had a short lifespan. In past years, the school was using an average of 6,000 compostable cups a week. With the new program, if a reusable cup gets used four times, it already is more ecologically friendly than the old compostable cup system.

Still, the program in theory and the program in reality differ.

“I think that its a great idea,” said first year Maya Banks. “We want to keep using the cups. They are good for the environment, but people just need to return them.”

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