Who moved our cups?

1182 metal cups out of 3000 are missing. This is the shocking report from Malcolm Shu, the Co-Founder of Sproutworks, who said, “I hope everyone can do their job. If only 10% do and 90% don’t, that doesn’t work.”

1182 metal cups out of 3000 are missing. This is the shocking report from Malcolm Shu, the Co-Founder of Sproutworks, who said, “I hope everyone can do their job. If only 10% do and 90% don’t, that doesn’t work.” 

From the very beginning of this semester, the cafe had begun to offer environmentally-friendly metal cups instead of single-use plastic bottles to reduce our plastic use on campus. “We tested grain-husk bottles, bamboo cups, and some other options, but settled on metal cups because they are durable, easy to wash, and nice to look at,” said Yifei Li, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, who spearheaded the metal cup program. Actually, NYU Shanghai is the only NYU campus that has implemented such an ambitious program, with support from Sproutworks and funding from New York sustainability team. “I don’t think many people realize how lucky we are to have a program like this,” said Professor Li.

How could 1182 cups simply disappear over the course of seven weeks? This mystery doesn’t take much sleuthing, for the truth can be deduced by a simple glance around the school. The evidence reveals that the 3000 metal cups were not treated well, being scattered haphazardly all over the AB. “A lot of people just take the cups and leave them somewhere in the building,” said Mary Kate, the Sproutworks manager in our school. Obviously, the problem is that many people don’t return the cups back, and both the students and the professors are suspects. In order to keep the floor sanitary, Ayis collect the cups whenever they see them and then return them, but even they cannot keep up with the pace of relentless mishandling. 

Beyond individual responsibility, there is still room for improvement in the management of cups. Currently, the only collection points are located at the B1 cafeteria and the second-floor cafe, which may not be sufficient. A joint effort from Sproutworks and Campus & Facility Department is required, since Sproutworks can only utilize their own space yet have no authority in other places. As an alternative solution, Yixi Yu of class 2023 suggests that the cafe asks students to swipe their ID card or even pay a deposit for cups. However, Professor Li still believes that “We’re a community, so we trust each other to be responsible citizens.”

“Everybody needs to take responsibility. We’re all grown-ups, so act accordingly,” said Professor Li. Apparently, it’s never a difficult thing to return the cup after use. We all ought to care for the environment of our school, because we are all members of the NYU Shanghai family.

This article was written by Mingqian Zheng. Please send an email to managing@oncenturyavenue.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Mingqian Zheng

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