Travel Mugs Replace Paper Cups in Paresky Commons

Instead of grabbing a paper cup before the the usual Monday morning rush in Paresky Commons, students can now borrow reusable travel mugs at the coffee and tea stations.

The “Borrow a Mug” program was launched this past Monday by e-leaders, which include e-proctors and EcoAction heads, in collaboration with Patricia Russell, Sustainability Coordinator, and the Sustainability Steering Committee in order to reduce Andover’s waste production.

Students can pick up the plastic, reusable travel mugs at any beverage station in Commons, and drop them off at carts in the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library, Morse Hall, Samuel Phillips Hall, Gelb Science Center or George Washington Hall. E-leaders will collect mugs from the drop off locations and bring them back to Commons until a work duty is established to collect mugs, according to Justin Wang, head of EcoAction.

This past fall, Christiana Nguyen ’13, Russell and Michael Giampa, Food Service Director, received an Abbot grant of $3,500 to purchase 1,000 travel mugs, according to a previous article in The Phillipian.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the mugs had saved around 4,000 cups and lids, which equates to about $287, according to Giampa. Commons spends approximately $300 weekly to buy between 3,000 and 4,000 paper cups, according to Rebecca Hession, a faculty coordinator of the “Borrow a Cup” initiative.

“The 1,000 new mugs cost $1,950, so the program will have paid for itself by the first week of spring term, if all the mugs are being returned,” said Hession.

Commons briefly ran out of mugs on Monday morning, as more students were using mugs than they normally would, said Nguyen. The problem was resolved as the e-leaders put out more unused mugs.

There is also a possibility of expansion to tupperware or food containers for students to bring food, according to Wang.

These first few weeks are a testing period as the e-leaders and the community adjust to the mugs, said Nguyen. Giampa said that the program will last as long as students return the mugs.

“The problem so far this week, however, is that our dedicated custodians are finding the mugs left all around (classrooms, halls, etc.). Students who borrow the mugs really need to take responsibility for not leaving them around after they are done with them. Return them to commons!” wrote Russell in an e-mail to The Phillipian.

“After the fall term alone, Paresky needed to spend $2,400 to replace plates that were not returned. The “Borrow a Mug” program helps to encourage a culture in which all items removed from Paresky Commons are quickly returned,” Hession continued.

“I was a little concerned about the program before it started because I was afraid that people would steal them and not bring them back to Commons, but the collection bins are what is really helping the program stand out—I think that the program is working out really well,” said Arianna Chang ’13.

The program engendered mixed reviews from the students.

“The mugs are very sustainable and hopefully we will be able to use the money that is saved for better food, and other future sustainability projects,” said Zoe Chazen ’14, an E-Proctor.

“The mugs are very convenient, especially because we are allowed to bring them into the library. The size of the mug is larger compared to the paper cups which is better,” said Alex Demeulenaere ’13.

“I think they’re great as far as decreasing the school’s environmental footprint and cutting the costs of paper cups. But, many people have told me they aren’t as convenient as the paper cups for grab n’ go food,” said Nolan Crawford ’15.