USD group participates in contest that asks students to ‘Kill the Cup’


Net Impact’s Taylor Kilpatrick and Claire Kane ask students to Kill the Cup at the Changemaker Fest on Oct. 10.

Net Impact’s Taylor Kilpatrick and Claire Kane ask students to Kill the Cup at the Changemaker Fest on Oct. 10.

Last week, Aromas used approximately 1,800 disposable paper coffee cups to supply students with their daily caffeine boost. Those cups translate into roughly 110 pounds of waste in a landfill, 450 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and 450 gallons of water used during the manufacturing process.

University of San Diego’s Net Impact, the school’s chapter of a national non-profit aimed at sustainability in the business world, feels that that amount of cups is simply too much. The chapter has launched a month-long Kill the Cup campaign to reduce the amount of disposable coffee cups used on campus. During the month of October, students are offered incentives to bring their reusable coffee cups to USD.

Senior Taylor Kilpatrick, one of the presidents of Net Impact, believes the contest will give students the push they need to make a change.

“It’s probably the case for all college students, but we’re kind of lazy about actually making an effort to change our habits,” Kilpatrick said. “I think that’s probably a general human trait. I think that there is a lot of openness to change but not the initiative to do it.”

In an effort to get students involved, Net Ventures is offering participating students prizes furnished by the Kill the Cup contest. Students can submit daily pictures of themselves with a reusable coffee mug to, and are then entered into a pool of prizes. Prizes include weekly giveaways of Amazon gift cards, and one grand prize of a new iPad.

The Kill the Cup contest is two-pronged. First, the contest measures participation by the percentage of the campus population who submit pictures online. Second, the contest measures the actual impact by calculating the increase in reusable coffee mug use during the month. This is measured by the discount given to reusable mug users across campus coffee vendors. If USD’s Net Ventures comes out on top of other universities, they will be awarded $2,000 to continue sustainability efforts on campus.

Net Ventures is also personally offering even more perks for USD students who take part in the Kill the Cup contest. The group is providing free coffee on Mondays in October from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Aromas to anyone using a reusable mug. Throughout the week, reusable mug users can also write their email address on their Aroma’s receipt and put it in a raffle bowl for weekly Campus Cash gift card prizes.

Kilpatrick thinks that all the prizes will work to excite students about sustainability. She said that the contest is especially important to USD because the coffee mugs used across campus are not recyclable.

“Basically no disposable coffee cups are recyclable because the inside has a wax lining,” Kilpatrick said. “That’s why Kill the Cup is entirely focused on coffee cups. Obviously recycling plastic water bottles and using reusable water bottles is important too, but you can recycle disposable bottles.”

Sophomore Lucy Meske, who was enjoying a hot tea at Aromas, was surprised to find out that the cup she was drinking from was not recyclable. She thinks the Kill the Cup contest could be a success for USD.

“I think as long as people have more knowledge about it,” Meske said. “It can’t hurt.”

USD is one of 10 schools taking part in Kill the Cup, the nation’s largest reusable cup contest. Other contestants include such large and respected universities as Boston University, New York University and Georgetown University. The contest is run by Social Ventures for Sustainability, a nonprofit that got its start at the University of California San Diego’s Rady School of Management. Co-founder and CEO Drew Beal said he was motivated to create the Kill the Cup contest after watching people’s wasteful actions.

“I used to work in an office, and everyday my coworkers would do the same thing: wake up, go to work and get coffee; and everyday in a disposable cup,” Beal said. “When I started studying consumer behavior in grad school, I realized that people needed better incentives to behave in environmentally friendly ways.”

Senior Brittany Becker, who is also a president of Net Impact, believes that the Kill the Cup incentives will help change the behaviors of consumers and USD students. Becker knows the habit of using throw-away coffee cups is a deep-rooted problem in the country.

“U.S. consumers throw away 50 billion paper cups a year,” Becker said. “That’s 12.5 billion pounds of CO2.”

Net Ventures hopes that the Kill the Cup campaign will inspire students to start a new trend that will spark additional sustainability efforts across the country.