part of an ongoing series of columns I’ve written, reprinted from the TU Rambler.

April, 2009.
This week I want to talk about an issue that is near and dear to the hearts of college students everywhere: parties.  And since Transy is a de facto wet campus, I want to discuss the ubiquitous red Solo Cup, and the eco-conscious choices we can make when we party.
Perfect examples of the modern unsustainable mindset of convenience and disposability, Solo cups are made of #5 polypropylene plastic, which cannot even be recycled in most places, including Lexington.  Manufacturing these cups in a factory in Illinois requires a huge amount of fossil fuel energy and even more energy is required to transport them to your local Liquor Barn.
However, (despite what you may have heard) both glass bottles and aluminum cans are recyclable in Lexington.  In addition, the energy it takes to produce one new 12-oz aluminum can is enough to make about two new 12-oz glass bottles (Plus, I think properly-chilled drinks in glass bottles stay colder longer than those in cans).  If you’re given the choice between a Solo cup and a can or bottle of beer, pick the recyclable option.  And if you have a choice between a sixer of bottles or cans, opt for the glass bottles.
And there’s yet another—and even more eco-friendly—option out there: B.Y.O.C. (that’s bring your own cup)!  Back in the day (before Solo cups were introduced in the 70s) folks would show up to a party with their own personal drinking container to fill up at the keg (or bathtub, if you like the hooch); nowadays, you could do the same thing with a Nalgene bottle (BPA free, of course).  This is also a convenient solution for the awkward question of “which cup is mine?”  Another alternative—which most people would never dare to consider—is to simply wash and reuse your Solo cups for the next party or game of Beer-Pong).
In the end, of course, this all comes down to choosing to move away from the status quo of unsustainability and convenience.  If we want to see a change in consciousness of our society, we have to push overconsumption and wastefulness out of the mainstream, and start making sustainable practices the new standard.

(Not surprisingly, this is the only one of my columns to elicit even a single response from the student body, and I’ve actually heard from about 3-4 students complementing me on this article.  However, I find it somewhat troubling that the article which students respond to is the one dealing not with reducing water wastage, chemical-free living, or even the extinction of our species, but with how to get drunk in an eco-friendlier way.)


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