Peirce Mugs a Casualty of Students’ Environmental Apathy
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
The ideal Sunday morning: Peirce is mostly empty and delightfully quiet. In one hand is Friday’s old newspaper, in the other a mug of delicious, warming tea. Oh, the nostalgia. It seems AVI has abandoned the perfectly-shaped ceramic mugs, moved on to plastic ones and now pitched the mugs all together. Instead, the student body is left with only one option: flimsy paper cups.
At the beginning of this year AVI sent out an email detailing its goal to eliminate paper cups altogether in an attempt to become more eco-friendly and to save money that could otherwise be funneled into the local foods program. While the goal is certainly commendable, there is a dichotomy between this goal and AVI’s subsequent actions.
As many of you non-first years may have noticed, mugs have vanished from Peirce Dining Hall completely. Incensed, I emailed Damon Remillard, resident director of AVI, about this situation. If AVI’s goal is to minimize paper cup use, why are we not provided with an alternative? Paper cups have been shown to have a greater negative environmental impact than manufacturing reusable containers. Is it really so much more economically sound to keep buying paper cups than to replace preexisting plastic or ceramic mugs?
The response I received was unsurprising. As usual, the situation boils down to the fact that AVI cannot afford to keep replacing mugs, cutlery and cups. It is cheaper to supply the student body with paper cups. There is only so much they can do, and this article is by no means a criticism of AVI. They attempt to do the best they can for us on a daily basis, and I tip my hat to them for that.
My issue lies with the student body. While I understand that it is nice to take a cup of coffee on the go or breakfast in a bowl to an 8:10 class, is it really so difficult to return Peirce dishes to appropriate locations when you are done with them? Over the past two years, I’ve been in a fair share of student rooms where dishes, mugs and cutlery are hoarded and kept to be used as one’s own. In keeping those dishes, you are skewing the counts AVI does to ensure that the dishware stock stays constant. AVI is then forced to buy more new products to replace the missing stock, channeling money away from things that could have benefited the student body and the community at large in other ways.
Stores like Walmart, Dollar Tree, Target and even IKEA all offer dishes at relatively low prices, and the best part is, they are yours to keep forever and will have no negative impact upon your friends or future Kenyon students.
To me, it is plain that Kenyon tries its best to reduce its environmental footprint. It is something we students pride ourselves on. In this instance, however, AVI can no longer support us. We, as a student body, have consistently proven ourselves so unreliable and untrustworthy that we can no longer have real mugs, something that in previous years most of us took for granted. Our actions lead to increased paper cup use, and thus increased negative impact upon the environment. Small things may seem harmless, like “borrowing” dishes for a while, but in the long run, they waste money and resources. The sad thing is, this issue could very easily be resolved if people were simply more aware of their actions and the consequences that follow.
Mugs are a comfort and a luxury, but they are also more economically and environmentally friendly. If we all showed a little more common courtesy and self-awareness, then this wouldn’t even have to be a discussion. Perhaps, one day, the mugs will return. Until then, I would strongly encourage all students to bring their own.
Katharina Devitofranceschi ’14 is a double major in anthropology and biology, with an interest in art history. Her email is email@example.com.