Parties on campus are typically littered with classic Red Solo Cups. Events at Rice use thousands of plastic items that typically go to a landfill. To solve this problem, Travis Kwee (Baker ’18) is a part of an initiative to incorporate reusable plates, cups, and utensils that can be checked out for parties, also known as greenware. The initial pilot program consisted of 120 sets of cups, bowls, plates, and utensils, ordered in 2013. However, the utensils and cups often went missing; therefore, Baker decided to only reorder the plates and bowls.
This program has been funded by Housing and Dining, which sets aside “green funds” at each college that go toward sustainability initiatives. According to Kwee, this program has saved $10 to $12 per event, which totals to over $500 at Baker, and has prevent over 2000 items from going to a landfill.
“This means fewer forests destroyed, less methane emitted, and reduced use of caustic chemicals used by paper mills that produce our seemingly harmless disposables,” Kwee said.
This program has had high praise. Those who use the greenware enjoy having the sturdy tableware. Those who buy it for events no longer have to worry about locating disposables for each event.
“For me and other environmentally-aware students, it’s a relief to be able to use reusables since I refuse to take any unnecessary disposables and hope others choose to do the same,” Kwee said.
Greenware will continue on, with the only concern being people not returning the greenware they borrow. Although this program is currently only used by Baker and Wiess, more disposables can be saved in the future with more colleges taking part in this initiative.