Our Push For A More Sustainable Campus

For those who go to the dining halls on a regular basis, I’m sure you have noticed that iced coffee is now being provided. This was a decision made by Auxiliary Services to give students the choice between having iced or hot coffee with their meals.

Iced coffee isn’t the issue. It’s the NON-RECYCLABLE plastic cups being used for the addictive drink. This new edition is just another thing adding on to the excess trash the world has and SUNY Oswego is contributing to that increase of trash with these cups.

Recently, the issue was raised to our Student Association (SA). The director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and SUNY Oswego student, Omar van Reenen and several other SA senators came together and proposed Plastic Action for Commitment to Sustainability Affirmation (PACSA). This proposal was to get the non-recyclable plastic cups (that were just introduced this semester) moved away from the fountain drinks to then ultimately take them out completely by the spring semester.

Of course the cups were meant for iced coffee, but they’re being used for every other cold drink instead of the glassware provided. Our safest assumption of why students are abusing this commodity is that the plastic cups hold more liquid than the glass. Sometimes there are students that have multiple cups on their tray that are filled to the brim with their drink! Who doesn’t want the most out of their drink right? But, is it worth at the expense of the environment?  

There is no limit on how many glass cups you can put on your tray. With that said, there is no need for the plastic cups for public consumption. The to-go cups can hold any liquid just fine. This is just the case of people abusing what’s given to them despite the fact there were other means to get what they want.

People think it's okay to use and throw away the plastic cups in the dining hall because SUNY Oswego takes trash and recycling to the Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) on Route 481.

They get separated from each other through a process called single stream recycling. The ERF incinerates the trash so the landfills don't get filled up so fast. The volume of trash would go from 100% to 10% in one go. It's very useful because all the energy would go into the county. This gives people the idea that it's okay to keep adding trash if it’s already getting burned. But, even burning trash is releasing harmful gases and is not good for the air we breathe.

On Tuesday, November 7th, SA held a meeting (for a third time) to decide whether or not to pass PACSA after having ignored the issue. Interns from the Office of Sustainability, residents from Onondaga, Funnelle, and Hart Hall came to support hoping that SA would see that other students see this as an issue. They spoke with passion with hope that Oswego stands by their goal of being sustainable. Despite the overwhelming support and Oswego’s ambition to become more sustainable, PACSA ultimately failed.

The goal is to make sure we reduce waste and with these non-recyclable plastic cups still in our dining halls, SUNY Oswego is adding on to the waste. This is defeating the purpose of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment President Stanley signed a decade ago, pledging the college to become climate-neutral by 2050.

This article’s intention is to show the importance to stand up for what you believe in. You may think it's just plastic cups and that there is no reason as to why there’s a commotion in the first place. It is a fair position to have if you don’t know the meaning behind it. There is a good chance the plastic cups will never leave, but the fight against it shows volumes. The environment is an important issue and we’re glad the students of SUNY Oswego are making their voices heard.