Miami joins the Kill the Cup University Challenge

Reduce disposable cup waste, join the Challenge

All students, faculty and staff can participate in the Kill the Cup Challenge:

Take a selfie when using your reusable mug – at your office, at home, at a coffee shop or on campus — and upload it to

Coffee may be purchased in your own reusable mug at five coffee shops on campus: Dividend$, Tuffy's, King Cafe, Bell Tower Place and the Emporium. 

Those five locations were responsible for selling nearly 2,775 cups of drip coffee - the large majority in single use cups — during one week in September, according to Anna Ginsky, sustainability education coordinator (Only drip coffee was measured; this figure does not include other drink types sold at those locations).

Inaugural contest Oct. 6-31 combines gamification and social media to promote the use of reusable mugs

written by Susan Meikle, university news and communications,

kill-cup-logoMiami University President David Hodge will help kick off the inaugural Kill the Cup University Challenge at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 6, in the Armstrong Student Center Shade Family Room.

All are invited to bring their reusable mugs and enjoy free coffee, tea and donuts.

  • Anna Ginsky will talk about the four-week Kill the Cup University Challenge and how to participate. Ginsky is Miami's sustainability education coordinator and a graduate student in the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability
  • Hodge will present brief remarks about the importance of sustainability at Miami
  • In Focus photography club will host a photo shoot for those who bring reusable mugs

Miami is one of 10 universities participating in the monthlong challenge organized by the nonprofit group Social Ventures for Sustainability. The contest encourages students to reduce waste from disposable coffee cups. uses prizes and contests to promote environmentally friendly behavior among consumers.

"To help us win all you have to do is take a selfie when using your reusable mug while drinking coffee/tea on campus or at home — it doesn't matter where — and upload it and your university email address to," Ginsky said.

"Uploads serve as prize entries for the weekly and grand prizes. Upload everyday for a better chance to win!"

Student teams at each university will track their progress based on the reduction of disposable coffee cups used on campus and the number of selfies posted to

The teams who perform best in the "Waste Reduction" Division or the "Social Awareness Division will be awarded $2,000 (first place) or $500 (second place) from Social Ventures for Sustainability to fund their own social impact projects.

kc-miamiWeekly prizes include $50 Amazon gift cards; the grand prize is an Apple iPad for each individual campus.

The rate of coffee cup reuse has been a point of interest for many national coffee retailers, most notably Starbucks. According to their website, the Seattle-based company has a 2015 goal of achieving a 5 percent reuse rate, said Drew Beal, co-founder and executive director of Social Ventures for Sustainability.

“If we are serious about changing behavior, we have to make it fun and engaging,” Beal said. “That’s what we’re trying to accomplish with programs like the Kill the Cup Challenge. Our vision is for this to become the 'March Madness' for environmental student groups.”

The pilot program launched at the University of California, San Diego, in the spring of 2013. During the eight-week campaign, 351 students uploaded more than 1,000 photos to The percentage of coffees sold in reusable containers rose by 68.6 percent — from 11.6 to 19.6 percent. The campaign saved an estimated 1,300 cups, equivalent to 80 pounds of landfill waste, 350 pounds of CO2 emissions, and 350 gallons of water associated with the manufacturing process.

The ten participating universities in the 2014 Kill the Cup University Challenge are:

  • Boston University
  • New York University
  • Villanova University
  • Georgetown University
  • Miami University
  • University of Michigan
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • University of San Diego
  • Washington State University
  • California State University San Marcos