Monday, April 5, 2010

Reusable Mugs Eliminate Waste and Styrofoam Cups at Sigma Chi

By Peter Smith '10

Last semester I became the Sustainability Chair for Sigma Chi and took the challenge of making our house more environmentally friendly. After assessing the house and seeing areas that needed improvement, I decided that the first task should be to eliminate environmentally toxic Styrofoam cups.

After speaking with our chef, Dave Chlad, I was able calculate our fraternity’s Styrofoam cup use. We were using about 1,000 Styrofoam cups a week, which is roughly 16,000 Styrofoam cups per semester! This calculates to 17 Styrofoam cups per brother per week at a cost of $800 per semester. Clearly, this is massive waste and harm to the environment and had to be eliminated. My solution to this problem was to invest in on-the-go mugs for each brother in the house so they would no longer have the need to use Styrofoam cups and would instead just use their own personalized mug. I shopped around the internet for personalized mugs until I found a website ( that would create Greek themed, personalized mugs for each brother. The mugs have our Greek letters and the Sigma Chi shield as well as each brother’s personalization. The total cost of the mugs was $891, including mugs for our chef Dave, cleaner Dee and custodian Chris. Since we only add roughly 25 new brothers each year, we would only need to buy them a mug which shows how cost-effective this solution is.

In the beginning, the brothers were hesitant and more than reluctant to give up their cups because of the convenience, but I persuaded them that this was the right decision both environmentally and economically. The mugs arrived in early February and were received with much enthusiasm. The brothers love having a mug of their own that they can use in the house and take with them to class or the library. We also receive a discount for coffee and other beverages when we use our personal mugs.

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