Queen's University: End your use of disposable cups

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Ellie Maclennan
Ellie Maclennan signed this petition

Common Ground Coffeehouse is a student-run, non-profit service under the Alma Mater Society (AMS) at Queen’s University. Last year alone, we purchased over 180,000 disposable cups. We need to do better: we need to take responsibility for our service, and our collective environmental impact. Isolated efforts towards change is not enough to see the radical improvements we desperately need. We want to start by launching a campus-wide campaign to end the use of disposable cups, and encourage our customers, students, & community members to choose reusables.   

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Although we recently switched to entirely compostable hot and cold cups, this alone is not enough. Despite our new sustainability fee (i.e. charging for disposables) and the availability of our “for here” mugs and for-sale reusable cups (from Common Ground or elsewhere), our customers are still largely using disposable cups. In order to see significant, meaningful improvements, we need to change the culture on campus surrounding disposable products. This project aims to accelerate this change.  

Especially with growing financial strains, such as Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) cuts, we want to remove the burden of accessing reusables. Over the past few months, we have partnered with several sustainability partners to help bring this project to life. With their help, we are giving away 1000 bamboo, reusable cups free of charge in exchange for individuals' pledge to end their use of disposable cups. This project is a pilot project: we plan to continue fundraising to help finance reusable cups for the entire incoming class of Orientation Week 2020. We hope to empower generations of students to use sustainable, reusable options.

Although a campus free of disposable cups may seem unimaginable, we want to follow the successful Bottled Water Free Campus model that was launched in 2012. This campaign successfully ended the sale of plastic water bottles on campus, which has had a tremendous impact; Queen’s has already avoided adding 4.8 million plastic bottles into the waste and recycling stream (learn more at https://www.queensu.ca/sustainability/campus-initiatives/food/bottled-water-free-campus). Across campus, the use of reusable water bottles has become mainstream. Following a similar model, we want to see the same change with reusable cups. 

As of March 2019, Kingston declared a state of climate emergency. On June 17th, Canada followed suit. Environmental action has never been more important and there is no time to wait. Please help change our campus by pledging to end your use of disposable cups. Every action and every cup counts.

Thank you, 

Common Ground Management Team & The Alma Mater Society, 2019-2020