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Monday, April 13, 2009

Disposables Displaced

UF Foundation recently enhanced their sustainability efforts by making a good thing even better.

For several years, the Foundation supplied disposable coffee cups at each of their eight coffee stations (located in five campus buildings). They have eliminated using disposable cups and plastic coffee stirrers. The initial idea was to move from low-cost polypropylene (Styrofoam) cups to a more biodegradable cup, since Styrofoam never degrades in landfills.

After reviewing costs, however, staff decided to rid disposable cups altogether. For staff and faculty who work in the same location daily there was little justification for disposables. They informed everyone that disposable cups would not be replaced once current inventory was depleted and invited coffee and tea drinkers to bring mugs for their personal use.

There was some opposition to the change but after initial grumbling, momentum shifted and the Foundation has been disposable cup free for over six months! What about visiting guests? For guest use, smaller quantities of biodegradable cups are supplied to administrative assistants within each department.

Small plastic coffee stirrers were also switched for wooden stirrers. Cost difference is small as wood is biodegradable and also doesn’t stick in sink drains like small plastic stirrers, a change that has pleased PPD also. This effort is a good example of one department taking initiative and saving another time and money.

The simple act of shifting a habit removed waste and added sustainability awareness for every beverage drinker at the Foundation. Consider making the same changes in your department today.