By Katelyn Melder
KU goes above and beyond to maintain a beautiful campus, but they falter on environmentally friendly sustainability.
After having lived on campus for a little over three years, I can say that KU should be doing more to supply students with environmentally friendly options. I say this not only because our Starbucks ran out of reusable cold cups already this semester but also because a college campus is a large community.
With a population of around 4,400 students living on campus and our total enrollment standing at around 8,500, we create a lot of trash. This includes a lot of that trash comes from Starbucks specifically.
What better way to combat this issue than to promote the use of reusable products at Starbucks and the Book and Brew?
Just this past week, I went to Starbucks and ordered the usual: an iced caramel macchiato. The only thing different was the fact that I asked for a reusable cold cup. They have reusable cups for hot drinks, which are two dollars. I have five because of the simple fact that I always forget to take them with me.
However, that day, I saw a row on the price list saying there was a reusable cold cup. I decided to check it out. They’re three dollars, with ten cents off any specialty drink I decide to get with that cup in the future. Sounds pretty good, right? Help the environment and get ten cents off.
After ordering, the barista went looking through a container, but came back empty-handed. They were out. My only three options were to get an expensive, (possibly over $15) travel cup, get the normal plastic cup with a straw or buy a hot drink on a hot day and get my sixth reusable hot cup.
I concluded that $15 was too much; a plastic cup and straw would only add to our destruction of the planet and having more than five reusable cups nearly defeats the purpose of reusable cups. I left with nothing. The Book and Brew on campus has even fewer options.
Over the summer, everyone was bustling about how Starbucks was getting rid of straws. I’ve heard people say, “They’re getting rid of straws, but they are still selling their products in plastic cups. What about people with disabilities that require the utility of a straw?”
First, let’s discuss why straws are particularly horrible for the environment. According to Recyclebank, a company with the objective of creating waste-free communities, straws cannot be recycled because they consist of polypropylene, a byproduct of petroleum. The extraction of petroleum, a fossil fuel, requires a large amount of energy and is no better for the environment than straws themselves.
Essentially, they cannot be recycled, and they are already one of the top pollutants of our shorelines. In a statistic from The Last Plastic Straw, an environmental group, “the United States consumes enough straws to fill the Yankee Stadium nine times a year.”
What should KU do? Getting rid of straws is a step in the right direction, and accommodations should be made for people who need them. Luckily for us, according to the Starbucks Newsroom, by 2020 they will have “develop[ed] a fully recyclable and compostable global cup solution.”
Until that happens, our local Starbucks needs to stay stocked with eco-friendly alternatives, and Aramark needs to lead the Book and Brew in the right direction.