Paper or ceramic? This semester, Temple of Zeus made an eco-friendly statement by making reusable cups the default option for hot drinks. The café has always offered ceramic mugs, but the switch now provides paper cups by request only.
Why the switch? Both sustainability and financial reasons, according to Keith Mercovich, Temple of Zeus Manager. It’s cheaper in the long run for the café to wash and reuse cups instead of purchasing them anew each time.
“If you include the shipping, receiving, ordering, inventorying, stocking and removal of trash, most of those take a lot of person power on a daily basis,” Mercovich said. “Since our cafe is designed to break even financially, all these costs need to be covered to offer a throwaway cup for every drink.”
The café uses a three-tiered price system for drinks, with the base price using the café-owned mug. Customers net a 50-cent discount for bringing their own mug, which the café does not have to wash, or a 50 cent surcharge for a disposable paper cup.
“We’re giving that accurate pricing, so that what you’re doing is what you’re paying for,” Mercovich said.
Ceramic dishes and metal utensils are also available for soups and sandwiches, as well as a reusable plastic cup for iced drinks.
Mercovich said he is not concerned about the cups going missing — “They’re going to a good cause, and someone’s going to have a reusable cup,” he said.
Temple of Zeus is not affiliated with Cornell Dining, which has also made recent efforts towards sustainability including offering reusable carryout containers and reusable coffee mugs through the Mug Club program.
Customers are happy with the change, Mercovich added. “I think a lot of people enjoy using a for-here cup. It’s much better to drink out of.”
“I definitely support it.” Hilary Paul grad, said. “I’ve always asked for it anyway, so it’s not a big change for me.”
And Jack Schleger ‘21 was also in support of the change, referencing the waste that is created on other areas on campus.
“It’s great. I think that everywhere on campus should try and move towards this direction,” Schleger told The Sun. “Most of the Cornell-run eateries are still creating so much waste. It’s a huge problem on campus.”
“I think it’s very exciting that we have reusable mugs now,” Olivia Chaudhury ’20, a Temple of Zeus employee, added. “It’s encouraging people to not waste so much. People are saving money, and we’re saving the planet.”