You may have noticed that as of January this year, all food outlets across campus began charging an additional 25¢ for each hot drink sold in a single-use cup.

At UBC, thousands of people enjoy hot drinks at campus cafes every day, making paper cups a large source of unnecessary waste. While most of us may already choose to bring a reusable mug, there’s still many people still using paper cups on campus for convenience.

In 2018, a student-led petition gathered over 4,000 signatures from the campus community calling for a campus-wide ban on single-use plastics. To encourage UBC students, faculty and staff to bring their own reusable mug, UBC Sustainability introduced UBC’s first ever Choose to Reuse week from February 11th to 13th.

To celebrate this campaign at UBC, UBC Sustainability distributed hundreds of reusable mugs to lucky participants at select cafés on campus. Students, staff, faculty and other community members had the option of choosing from a wide selection of vintage coffee mugs, or Starbucks reusable To-Go cups donated over the course of a 2-week mug drive. Participants could also choose to purchase a UBC-branded steel coffee flask at a whopping 30% discount at the UBC Bookstore.

On the chilly February mornings, our team of dedicated volunteers provided much-needed warmth and enthusiasm for the day’s work. Starting at 7:30am, volunteers were stationed outside various campus cafés giving away over 1200 reusable cups collected from generous campus community donors such as the Agronomy Road Starbucks.

We received an overwhelmingly positive response from participants, many of whom were excited to leave with a new mug. As a long-standing leader in global sustainability, UBC has an opportunity to lead the region in reducing single-use items and to make an impact far beyond our community. This campaign proved to be a huge success as we look to continue encouraging members of the UBC community to switch from paper cups to reusable mugs for hot drinks.