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Killin’ it: University sustainability competition challenges MU students

By Jenna Tiller, For The Miami Student

Miami has shown a commitment to sustainability in their building construction, but this October, the Kill the Cup University Challenge will promote sustainable changes in student habits as well.

Anna Ginsky, a second year graduate student in the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability, entered Miami University into the Kill the Cup University Challenge. A total of 10 universities entered and are participating, including the University of Michigan and New York University.

Kill the Cup is an offshoot of the parent company Social Ventures for Sustainability, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable practices. According to the official website, Kill the Cup's goal is to change the daily habit of using paper cups to reduce resource use and waste.

"People need to commit to living sustainably - making sustainable life choices," Ginsky said. "That's what this is about."

In order to participate, students and faculty need to purchase their coffee in a reusable cup or mug instead of the one-use paper cups usually sold. All they need to do is take a selfie with their reusable cup and upload it to using their Miami email accounts. Each post (with a maximum of one per student per day) enters that person into a drawing for prizes, including $50 Amazon gift cards and an iPad.

If Miami were to win the competition by having the most photo submissions and the most waste reduction, Kill the Cup would gift $4000 to the university to be used for an environmental cause on campus.

The Kill the Cup University Challenge will last four weeks, running from Oct. 6 to Oct. 31. Only pictures sent from Monday through Friday will count toward the challenge, although Ginsky said students are still encouraged to use reusable cups on the weekends.

Five on-campus coffee locations will participate in the challenge, Ginsky said, four of which always allow students to use their own mugs, and one that is adjusting to participate in the challenge. Tuffy's, Dividend$, Bell Tower Café and Emporium are the permanent locations, while King Café is making the temporary exception.

Ginsky said students could also submit photos from coffee locations Uptown, such as Starbucks, Kofenya, UDF and even vendors at the Saturday farmers market.

"As long as you are using a reusable mug, you can upload a photo," Ginsky said.

In order for Kill the Cup to be successful, student involvement is absolutely essential. Sophomore Environmental Science major Ian Foster thinks the key is good publicity in all of the vendors, because many students are not aware they can use their own cups at all.

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"Posting signs, having cashiers ask whether they've brought their own cups or mugs, little things like that can make all the difference," Foster said.

To promote participation on campus, Ginsky said Green Oxford, NAEP, Greenhawks, The Miami Student, the Sustainability Committee in the Farmer School of Business (FSB), InFocus photography and some off-campus partnerships will be supporting and advertising the challenge. InFocus will also be taking and uploading photos at some of the locations to promote participation. Ginsky is also hoping to garner support from Miami's Greek Community.

"The important message right now is that people become aware that they CAN use their reusable mugs today at four locations on campus," Ginsky said. "So right now we want to start getting that message out there and encouraging the behavior now. We want people to be fully on board by the time October 6 rolls around."