The Commons Cup Conundrum

Every week, Andover uses an average of 4,500 disposable cups and 2,500 lids from the coffee station in Paresky Commons, according to Flynn Bryan ’18.

“For every four cups that we use, that’s one pound of carbon we’re releasing into the atmosphere. And that’s not even counting all the physical waste that we’re moving into landfills. That’s just on the production end,” said Bryan.

Bryan Jimenez ’21 said, “The grab and go type of culture is that you need food really quickly. And you obviously need to eat in the morning, but you can’t sit down, so I guess it’s something that’s logical”.

Bryan said, “I understand that it’s really hard sometimes to sit down and eat a meal or drink coffee in Commons… But I believe that there is a way for our school to do that [in a way that does] not take such an enormous toll on the environment.”

In response to the amount of waste produced by the school on a daily and weekly basis, Bryan is working to reduce Andover’s consumption of Commons paper cups.

“It really just is an immense amount of waste that we don’t think of and that we take for granted,” she said.

Bryan said the most feasible solution to the issue is getting rid of disposable cups altogether. Students could instead carry their own containers and Paresky could make cleaning stations for washing.

Michael Thompson ’20, however, disagreed with the feasibility of Bryan’s proposal. “It’s not that feasible because you can’t just expect every kid to go wash their cups out… Kids would be using dirty cups all the time because they wouldn’t wash them,” he said.

Skylar Xu ’20, who is working with Bryan, said that students need to stand against Andover’s carbon footprint and culture around sustainability.

“Not a lot of people realize what we are leaving behind, and I think it’s about a culture as a whole,” she said.

Bryan and Xu believe that student support is essential to finding a solution.

“We talked to the Commons staff and they told us that they can take away the cups and bring sustainable one’s very fast. It’s just about student support and how the student body will agree with us on this issue,” Xu said.

Bryan said, “The solution has to be students hearing this, seeing the amount of waste that we are creating, coming to terms with that, and saying, ‘Actually I don’t want to be a part of that… I care about having a greener Andover.’ ”