With summer just around the corner and the weather finally starting to get nice, lots of people are enjoying cold drinks like iced tea and ice coffee, which are both great for cooling off in the heat. However, drinking iced drinks often leads to a huge amount of plastic waste since they come in plastic cups and are usually accompanied with a straw. Take a look into any River Campus trash can, and it is likely filled with plastic Starbucks cups and straws. This is very unfortunate and wasteful, but luckily there is a solution.
If you haven’t heard yet, reusable mugs are accepted at all University of Rochester coffee shops—and most off campus coffee shops are more than willing to fill your mug with anything you like as well. Not only does this prevent unnecessary plastic waste, it also saves you money, which I think all students can appreciate. Using a reusable mug on campus can get you a drink for only $1.39, which in most cases is probably cheaper than the drink you would normally get with a plastic cup. You get to save declining and save more waste from going to the landfill. This is easier than ever since Tapingo now has a reusable mug option, so you can even save time by being sustainable. You can also pick up a punch card at any River Campus coffee shop, and after getting ten punches for using a reusable mug or water bottle, you get a free pastry!
It’s hard to not reduce your waste when the school provided so many incentives to do so. Outside of these incentives, there are other ways to save money and waste. Glass, metal, and bamboo straws are all really inexpensive online (I’ve seen them sell for as cheap as $0.30), and some even bend up and come on a key chain so you never have an excuse to use a plastic straw. Making these small changes will save you from producing a lot of waste in the long run.
Reducing your plastic waste has literally never been easier, especially here on campus. There is no reason not to make these small changes, which will be really effective in the long run and save you money.
Written by Isabel Lieberman, Class of 2021.