Cups Up

Reusable cup, now available in the Johnson Center
Reusable cup, now available in the Johnson Center

After almost a year of planning, the Mason Cups Up program launched in February, enabling students to fill specially-designed “Cups Up” reusable cups with cold drinks at a discounted price at the Johnson Center food court. Emily Novack, a sophomore studying environmental and sustainability studies, originally developed the project in response to a group assignment for her spring 2014 Cornerstones course NCLC 103, Human Creativity: Science and Art, and brought the project to fruition through another course, NCLC 275 Leadership for Sustainability. Caitlin Lundquist, BA Environmental and Sustainability Studies '14, Mason Dining’s marketing and sustainability manager.

Through Mason’s Cups Up program, anyone purchasing a fountain drink may also purchase a four dollar reusable cup which will entitle them to a 50 cent discount on future drinks purchased using the cup in the Johnson Center food court and Express market. As part of her initial project research, Novack discovered that at least 200 disposable cups are purchased and discarded each hour in the Johnson Center on a typical lunch break while classes are in session. Novack estimates that in the program’s first two weeks, 100 reusable cups have been sold.

Novack, who also works in Mason’s Office of Sustainability as the outreach intern, developed a marketing plan to make students aware of the cups’ availability. She co-created a song about the cup for the NCLC 103 class, held several outreach sessions in JC kiosks with Mason Dining sustainability intern Elizabeth Dupuis, a sophomore in the integrative studies program, advertised the program through social media and posted flyers announcing the program. She has also helped Lundquist to spread the word among JC staff who will handle drink purchases.

Now Novack is promoting Cups Up purchases and use, including increasing the number of places on campus where Cups Up secures discounted fountain drinks and encourages the Mason community to reduce the number of cups entering the waste cycle. Novack is also marketing the Choose to Reuse reusable food containers as a co-product for Mason Dining’s on-the-go alternatives.

Overall, Novack is pleased with the program’s success, and is gateful for the support received through Lundquist, other Mason Dining staff and her peers in NCLC 210, Sustainable World, many of whom have purchased cups and promote their use.

She said, “Every cup sold represents fewer disposable cups in the trash or as litter on campus and a more sustainably-minded Mason.”

Professor Andrew Wingfield said, “Nothing gratifies me more than seeing students make real and positive change on our campus, and it’s even better when those students are part of the NCC community. How special that Caitlin, one of our talented alumni, has mentored Emily, one of our rising stars, on this terrific project.”