Raise a mug for sustainability: Projects at home and abroad

Community members at the Spanish House dance party fundraiserby Kathleen Richter
Staff Writer

“The use of papercups continues to grow. Currently, we are using about 12 cases (1000 count cases) weekly. They cost about 4 cents apiece , which adds up to approximately $480 dollars weekly on paper cups. If you multiplythat by 33 weeks that’sroughly $15,840.00 a school year,” McClurg Chef Rick Wright reported in an e-mail to the Environmental Residents (ERs) who started the project “Take a Mug for a Cup.” The goal of the campaign can be misunderstood by the student body. The goal is not to completely remove the paper cups – McClurg introduced them in order to reduce their constantly growing cost ordering new dishware. Rather, it is to raise awareness of the cost of missing dishware and paper products.

The goal of the “A Mug for a Cup” campaign is to reduce the rampant usage of paper cups, which started because students, faculty, visitors, as well as McClurg workers, use paper cups inside the dining hall although plenty of normal glasses and mugs are available. It seems to be more convenient for some people to grab a paper cup instead of a glass. Another factor contributing to high paper cup usage is the double, triple and even quadruplecupping when taking hot beverages out of McClurg dinning hall. McClurg cup sleeves are available as an alternative to this waste of perfectly clean paper cups. Additionally, Stirling’s contributes to the paper cup usage. Workers tend to serve drinks in paper cups even if they were not ordered to-go.

The ER’s ordered 100 plastic double walled isolated mugs, which will arrive around March 10 and be available for sale, cash or with credit card, in McClurg during lunch time. Many students have mentioned that they use the paper cups because they do not have a mug which they could use. This is an optional solution, the cups are purple, in Sewanee spirit, and have written on them “Sewanee, I am not a paper cup.” You can purchase them for $10 and all the proceeds will go to the Sewanee Haiti project.

Dr. Deborah McGrath works with students on a Haitian coffee-based agroforestry system project to reduce carbon emissions. The program is called Zanmi Kafe, Partners in Agriculture. During Spring Break 2013, a group of Sewanee students went with McGrath and the Outreach office to Haiti, the hike up to the little mountain village Boi Jolie was on the daily schedule, as well as the interviews with the famers, and the construction of a nursery for coffee seedlings. Hand in hand with the farmer and with local agriculture students, Sewanee students planted 16,000 coffee seedlings over the past year. McGrath says that “the project also provides unique cross-cultural environmental problem-solving and sustainability educational opportunities for Sewanee and Haitan students.” Twenty-four students are going this Spring Break again to Haiti and “continue survey and begin for tree-planting efforts.”

“Less then two percentof Haiti’s originalsubtropical and rain forest remain,” with its loss come many consequences for the environment and the people in Haiti. The Sewanee Haiti Institute wants to improve this disastrous situation, and already did a couple big steps in the right direction. To keep walking in this direction and to make bigger changes in Haiti, the Sewanee Haiti Institute tries to collect money to keep this wonderful project running. Recently, the Hairi outreach trip organized a fundraiser in the Spanish House, where they danced and sold unique Haitian photographs. The annual Sewanee Idol is also one of the fundraisers for the Haiti Outreach trip.

If you missed both events but still want to support this significant project, you can get in contact with McGrath via e-mail, dmcgrath@sewanee.edu, or buy a bottle or more from the “Take a Mug not a Cup” project. All the money will be donated to the Sewanee Haiti Institute, to help to improve the situation in Haiti and be a great example for other problematic places on earth. We are just a little liberal arts college, but the Haiti project demonstrates that we can make big changes outside the boarders of Sewanee, be part of it and help.