The concept of sitting in a dining hall and sipping coffee out of a to-go cup is an oxymoron.
The University of Dayton encourages students to incorporate sustainable habits into their lifestyle. As a result, Dining Services recommends eating meals in dining halls instead of opting for carry-out. Other cafeterias also suggest customers use their ceramic plates and traditional silverware. However, there is no dine-in version of a mug.
These on-campus venues do not allow students to use their own travel cups or thermoses.
The associate director and administrative dietitian of Dining Services, Joan Bauman, is aware and concerned about this problem.
“[People can’t refill their own cups or mugs] because people started bringing in really large containers to refill…” Bauman said, “we tried to get a standard mug that was issued by Dining Services but the students really didn’t like those mugs… so we have not found a good alternative to a standard reusable cup.”
An employee at the Emporium told me the past two classes of freshmen received the mugs at New Student Orientation although she rarely sees anyone using them. The travel cups were for sale in some dining locations at one point, but they were not successful in selling.
Unfortunately, there are only a few compost bins around campus, so when students take coffee from Au Bon Pain to the Science Center, for example, the to-go cup will most likely end up in a trash can rather than a compost bin. (Yes, I am guilty of doing this.)
There are a lot of contributing factors to why the university is hesitant to allow students to use their own cups. It would be faced with the issues of possible theft, monitoring ounces-per-beverage, sanitation of drink dispensers and more.
Don’t get me wrong, I am proud to attend a university progressive in sustainability.
I have always been mindful of the motto ‘reduce, reuse, recycle,’ but my time at UD has taught me to think outside the box, or rather, the recycling bin.
I learned more about why we should be sustainable, what we can do to make a difference and how we can commit to a sustainable lifestyle.
Bauman was excited to hear students are taking initiative and was eager to dig deeper for a solution to the cup issue.
“[We have discussions with] all of our managers from all the dining halls about this … and are partnered with HSI [Hanley Sustainability Institute] … and we would like to find a solution,” Bauman said.
I am confident the university will continue to branch out– saving the trees is in our roots.
The homepage of the Hanley Sustainability Institute reads, “HSI is working with the UD and Dayton community to make progress towards our goal of a more sustainable campus and community and becoming a leader in sustainability education.”
The Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
The campus’ green initiatives align with this definition of sustainability and with the mission of HSI.
The future is in our hands– and I hope, in the future, we will hold reusable travel cups in our hands.
Photo courtesy of Marigrace Moses.