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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

When it's better neither to give nor to receive
January 6, 2009 - 1:21pm

As a change agent with an audience consisting largely of young adults, I understand the value of tchotchkes. You know, those inexpensive items, emblazened with a logo or a slogan which you can afford to give away for free. If it's cute, people will take it. If it's also useful, they might keep it around for a while and see (perhaps even think about) your message every time they use the thing.

At Greenback, we try to make our tchotchkes environmentally and socially responsible. Local sourcing, recycled materials, long-lived reusable alternatives to cheap plastic obsolescence, that sort of thing.

Apparently, not all schools are quite so conscientious.

I recently came across a tchotchke which, it would seem, I picked up at some conference or other. (If not, I have no idea how it came into my hands. Really, officer!) It's a neoprene-like cupholder, slightly tapered, green in color, apparently intended to protect the hand from heat. It advertises the dining services at a mid-sized state U that I generally respect and so won't embarrass here. (If it's you, you'll know who you are.) The tag line is "your ECOlogical choice for campus dining," and maybe they are ecologically minded in some of their decisions, but this cupholder isn't the result of any such.

There's no indication that the materials used are recycled.

There's no indication that the materials used are recyclable and, since it's a plastic foam bonded to some sort of fabric, I highly doubt that they are.

Worst of all, the thing is apparently designed to be used in conjunction with (and thus to encourage use of) disposable paper coffee cups.

Bad dining services! No leftover dessert for you!!


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