As I walk around campus, I can’t help but notice the bins packed full of the new reusable mugs that have popped up in various buildings recently. These mugs are intended to replace the smaller paper cups that once were provided in Paresky Commons, being more more environmentally friendly and convenient for students to use.
Still, while the travel mug program is a good idea in principle, the entire Andover community must become more responsible and proactive in order to ensure the success of this fledgling initiative.
The new mugs are undeniably more environmentally friendly than their predecessors, which is
a great advantage. They are also intended to be a convenient way for students to carry what they want outside of Commons. Unfortunately, these mugs have ended up being less convenient than the disposable cups.
Lack of student responsibility decreases the effectiveness of thenew mugs. In only the first few weeks of its inception, students are already failing to properly return the mugs to the bins or Commons, leaving them instead in empty classrooms or lobbies. In two of my five classes last week, I found used mugs sitting on tables in the classrooms. In the library, I often see at least one abandoned mug on a table.
Lost mugs mean that there will be fewer cups available for immediate use, resulting in the shortages that are already causing students annoyance. Students are currently reluctant to simply return the cups that they have used, a somewhat upsetting reflection on our student body’s ability to commit to this program.
All of this adds up, and when I arrive at Commons in the morning, I usually see less than 10 new mugs available, all of which are quickly taken. As an emergency measure, disposable cups are now being put out when the mugs aren’t available, a testament to the current inefficiency of the program.?
The travel mug program would be a great way to minimize waste while increasing convenience for the students. Unfortunately, the program is currently struggling because the cups are not being returned and cleaned.
The success of this initiative really comes down to whether students, staff and faculty, as part of the Phillips Academy community, are ready to handle the responsibility associated with the new mugs. Only through increased effort on the part of both the students and the staff will the program become an effective and efficient addition to our school.
Michael Michiue is a two-year Upper from New York, NY.