Five hundred years ago, Leonardo da Vinci started working on the Mona Lisa. And 500 years from now, the red Solo® cup you used last weekend might finally decompose in the landfill. The 24 fraternities at UNC use an estimated 432,000 cups each academic year – and this number does not include the Solo® and Styrofoam cups used during meals.
UNC’s Net Impact Undergraduate Chapter focuses on sustainable and socially responsible business. Our on-campus project committee saw this situation as an ideal opportunity to reduce waste and have a positive net impact on campus. We began researching to find compostable cups that fraternities could switch to that are made in the USA and are price-comparable to the popular red Solo® cups that they currently use. Fabri-Kal, a plastic foodservice containers and packaging company, fulfilled all of our requirements.
We view fraternities on campus as a major component of our University that are capable of leading change through this initiative. Getting them on board with the switch required not just a behavioral shift, but an educational awareness component as well.
In the process of working with the fraternities, we paired up with another organization, Carolina Conscious, which came at this idea from a social responsibility standpoint. Carolina Conscious wanted to take a stance on sexual assault and at the same time tackle sustainability issues. Together, we began branding cups with sexual assault resources and created what became our mission: to be “Respectful of each other. Grateful for the earth.”
We have multiple fraternities ready to participate in this cost-effective, sustainable and socially responsible initiative. As sustainability-focused businessmen and women, we believe that it is essential for businesses to keep the triple bottom line in mind in order to have a positive net impact. We strive to have a positive change on all three: people, planet and profit.
Cheers to business as UNusual.
By Lisa Dunleavy (BSBA ’17), president of the UNC Net Impact Undergraduate Chapter