Beyond Beyond the Bottle: THE RED CUP

The ubiquitous red cup. An icon in the undergraduate community and the universal sign that it’s party time. Intended to conceal whatever you’re illegally chugging away at, but let’s be real – who doesn’t already know?

I happen to be the girl who clutches her red Solo cup, dragging it from party to party to make sure I don’t waste more than one in a night. I’m not enough of a weirdo environmentalist to carry around my own glass but I do have some issues with the unreal number of Solo cups we go through. And in fact, so does Brown.

Last week, Vice President for Campus Life & Student Services Margaret Klawunn sent a mass email to students living off-campus reprimanding them for their partying behavior.  Apparently, this was in large part a response to complaints from permanent residents about the ridiculous mass of red cups littered all over the street (and in some residence’s gardens) the morning after a few particularly rowdy parties. Here’s an extremely abridged version of the email:

RE: Important City Ordinance Information

Dear (student name),
Living off campus is a privilege which carries with it important responsibilities.  Things to keep in mind:

  1. Noise
  2. Trash
  3. Recycling
  4. Parties

Please take the responsibility of representing Brown in the community as a serious one.

MK & Co

Needless to say, my eyes zoomed in on the word recycle. Why? Because, fellow red-cup lovers, our beloved goblets of choice, though made of plastic, are actually NOT recyclable – at least not in Rhode Island. Their recycling number (5) isn’t processed by the RI recycling plant yet, though next year the plant will begin to include low density polyethylene plastic, the main constituent in the good ol’ red cup.

So until we can recycle them? I’m not going to say we should all stop using them because a) I, for one, don’t think I’d be able to keep that promise and b) I don’t think our weekends would be the same without the symbolic Solo. Here’s what I’m saying:

1. Think twice about starting a second cup. If you really tried, you could remember where you left your last one!

2. Share cups with a friend! Sharing is caring! Hygiene? Whatever, we all get sick at the same time anyways!

3. You could reuse your red cup….which would require getting it to a kitchen and cleaned and taking it back out the next night. Too much to ask? Worth a shot.

4. BUY A KEG! Instead of a 30-rack, snag a keg. That way you’re not wasting tons of red cups AND 30 cans of aluminum.

5. If you’re feeling really ambitious, join Ecoreps and make your own reusable plastic cup!

I’m not saying “Don’t Go Solo!” In fact, do – it’s Friday! Just take a sec to consider the costs of using them wastefully, so we can keep on keepin’ on with red cups in hand!
Fun Fact:
A standard Solo red cup holds 18 oz!

Not as Fun:
A Solo red cup can take ~200 – 1000 years to biodegrade.


  1. Ginger

    Thanks for the EcoReps plug!

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