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Reusable Cup Program Returns Post-Covid

Graydon Paul
Reusable Cup Program Rules and Promotion Displayed for Students.

Villanova’s Dining Services and Department of Sustainability partnered to bring back the reusable cup discount program at all Holy Grounds locations. 

The “Bring Your Own Cup” program was a feature of the Holy Grounds of the past, before Covid brought about heightened precautions to slow the spread of the virus, including putting a halt to allowing customers to bring their own cups. 

An Instagram post from @villanovasustainability and @villanovadining read, “Better latte than never—the Reusable Cup Program is back,” using a coffee pun to encourage people to participate in the program.  

From Jan. 16 to Jan. 19, Dining Services celebrated the return of the program by awarding a free 16oz coffee to anyone that brought their own reusable cup.   

The program, encouraging customers to “do your share to preserve the Earth,” as seen on the same Instagram post, offers a 35-cent discount to those who bring a reusable mug at all Holy Grounds locations. The discount is applicable to hot and iced coffee, hot and iced tea and cold brew, but not to specialty beverages.  

Dining Services was proud to announce the program’s return, as the pandemic caused unprecedented waste due to the suspension of programs like this and the use of takeout containers in dining halls to reduce points of contact. 

“Dining Services values our role in the University’s commitment to sustainability and works to implement sustainable practices wherever possible,” Jenna Rose, a nutrition promotion manager for Dining Services, said. “The reusable mug program existed for over a decade at Holy Grounds locations prior to Covid, and we’re excited to be able to relaunch this initiative.” 

Rose, along with other workers, helped to lead the collaboration with the Office of Sustainability to relaunch the program. 

Last year, under the guidance of Fr. John Abubakar, the University’s new chief sustainability officer, the single-use plastics task force was formed to address plastic waste on campus. The task force, convened by Dr. Jean Lutes, the Luckow Family endowed chair in English Literature and English Professor at Villanova, determined that bringing back the reusable cup program was an initiative that could help the University further reduce single-use plastic. 

“The task force is thrilled that Dining Services has taken this step forward,” Lutes said.  

Lutes thinks the program is another small step forward to the University-wide shift towards more sustainable practices and hopes more sustainable programs will emerge throughout the rest of dining services. 

“I hope this is just the beginning of Villanova’s shift toward more sustainable practices,” she said. “Every time someone brings their own cup to a Holy Grounds location and commits to washing that cup and using it again, they make everyone else more aware of the waste produced by single-use cups.” 

Moving forward, Dining Services is working on tracking the purchases of disposable plastic and paper cups. 

“Efforts are being made to track the usage of reusable cups to measure the environmental impact and success of the program,” Rose said. 

Dining Services and the Office of Sustainability also collaborated with students to bring the reusable cup program back to campus. 

Sophomore Margaux Barrett, for instance, worked on the initiative with faculty while gathering student input about how to best reinstate the program. Focusing on rolling out marketing strategies to help increase awareness of the program across campus, Barrett said her role has given her a way to impact change.

“Being the student director of the Reusable Cup Program has been such a wonderful experience,” Barrett said. “I feel really grateful and proud to be part of a program that is actually making tangible change on campus.”

While Dining Services believes the reaction to the return of the program has been positive thus far, with Rose saying the first week received positive reception from the community, student reactions have varied. Many students use their meal plans to purchase their drinks and snacks at Holy Grounds, so some are frustrated that the discount cannot be applied when using a meal.  

The Villanovan asked for student feedback through Instagram, through which some students requested to remain anonymous. 

“Not worth it for anyone on a meal plan, which is most students,” one comment said. 

However, others like Holy Grounds barista and University senior Marykate Oldham, are pleased with the University’s efforts to adopt more sustainable practices in a post-covid era.  

“As a barista,” Oldham said. “[I] love it.”

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About the Contributors
Lydia McFarlane
Lydia McFarlane, Co-News Editor
Lydia McFarlane is one of three Co-News Editors for 2023 after starting as a Co-News Editor in the summer of 2022. Lydia is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. She is also minoring in Russian Area Studies. Lydia is active in several cultural organizations at Villanova, and hopes to combine her talents in journalism with her passion for social justice. Lydia's writing has also appeared in The Hill, Education Week and Resolve Philadelphia.
Graydon Paul
Graydon Paul, Photography Editor
Graydon Paul is a junior Computer Engineering Major in her second year as Photography Editor. As the editor, she edits photos for every issue, making sure they highlight and fit the context of each article. Apart from The Villanovan, Graydon is a huge sports fan, loves to read, collect records, and do anything outside with her two labs, Scotch and Özil. However, that sports fandom has drawn the ire of several Villanovan editors, as Graydon is a devoted supporter of her hometown Dallas Cowboys.
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