Students urged to recycle coffee cups

Commerce students launch sustainability initiative on campus to promote recycling, divert waste

Do A Goode Thing launched at Goodes Hall on Tuesday.
Do A Goode Thing launched at Goodes Hall on Tuesday.
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A new campaign run by commerce students is urging Queen’s to “Do A Goode Thing” and recycle coffee cups.

The campaign promotes coffee cup recycling in order to divert waste. So far, it’s placed stickers on recycling bins at Goodes Hall to show students that cups can be recycled in plastics bins, and plans to expand to other buildings in the future. It may also install coffee cup-specific recycling bins at Goodes.

Coffee cups have been recyclable at Queen’s since 2011. A survey of campus food outlets asking how many to-go coffee cups they sold annually showed that 1.1 million coffee cups went into the waste stream in 2011, according to Llynwen Osborne, recycling coordinator at the Sustainability Office.

Cameron Prouse came up with the idea to encourage recycling while he was living in a University of Toronto residence this summer and working at Deloitte Canada.

“I noticed that at U of T they actually have a separate bin for just coffee cups,” said Prouse, Comm ’15. “Everyone drinks coffee all the time, and they go for coffee breaks, and the biggest thing that I noticed was they don’t use reusable mugs, ‘cause it’s too much of a hassle to wash.

“My initial plan was actually to do it where I worked this summer at Deloitte, but it just so happened that there was actually a class that we needed to do a change project for, and then this was the idea that we went with.”

Prouse and his partners, Guanneng Ng, Ilona Huynh, Jennifer Van der Wee and Erynn Linehan, launched Do A Goode Thing on Tuesday at Goodes Hall.

He said they’re working with the Sustainability Office to potentially spread the campaign to other buildings at Queen’s, including Beamish-Munro Hall. The campaign has also been approached by the Queen’s School of Business Centre for Social Impact (QSB CSI), which Prouse said has raised $100,000 and is looking to use that to fund similar projects at the School of Business.

“They’re thinking about launching an annual Do A Goode Thing campaign off of that,” he said.

He said the CSI has offered to buy coffee cup-specific bins for Goodes Hall, which was the group’s original plan. He added that they’d looked at bins from a company in Texas that were $40 each, but the group on its own didn’t have the money to purchase the bins.

In the meantime, they’ve placed stickers on recycling bins at Goodes.

“It makes it idiot-proof,” he said. “That’s why U of T, I think, is so successful, because it’s just a coffee cup bin.”

Prouse said the response to the campaign has been “unbelievable”.

“Everyone’s been very, very engaged in terms of social media with the response to it,” he said.

He said he thinks they’ve been so successful in terms of engagement because it’s a campaign run by students reaching out to students.

“We can reach out to the students more directly than the faculty or the staff saying ‘let’s do this’.”

Do A Goode Thing didn’t come up with success metrics for the campaign, he said, but rather are seeking to just raise awareness and making throwing out a coffee cup frowned upon.

“It’s very cliche but … we’re saving the world one coffee cup at a time,” he said.

“All you do is you take off your sleeve, you put your sleeve in the paper, and then you put your cup and lid in the plastic cans recycling. And it’s so easy to do, and we can divert so much waste from landfills,” he added.

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