Most people do the same routine every single day. They wake up, get dressed, go to work and drink coffee. As you are pouring yourself a cup of coffee or waiting in line at Starbucks do you notice what kind of cup you are using? Is it disposable or reusable?

Americans dispose of 100 billion disposable cups each year. That doesn’t include paper cups, which account for a further 58 billion cups each year in the United States. And let’s not forget Styrofoam cups, 25 billion of which are thrown out each year. Consider all of the restaurants and people that use disposal containers and you will soon realize this is a huge problem.

Well, a man named Drew Beal realized this cup problem and did something about it. Beal is the co-founder and president of Kill the Cup, a program to raise awareness on this issue. Its mission is to reduce consumer waste and inspire social innovation. The program partners with college campuses and communities to empower change, providing individuals with tools and resources to run effective sustainability campaigns.

In 2014, the University Challenge asked colleges across the U.S to combine selfies, reusable cups and social media to broaden the reach of the campaign. Each campus competed for weekly prizes, as well as a bigger prize of an iPad. The Challenge ran from October 6 to October 31 and the results were just recently announced.

kill the cup collage

Collage of participants in the 2014 University Challenge. (Photo Courtesy of Kill the Cup)


Waste Reduction Division

1st– Miami University (5.52%)

2nd-Georgetown University (5.06%)

Social Awareness Division

1st– University of San Diego (4.53%)

2nd– Loyola University Chicago (3.74%)

University of San Diego undergraduate chapter of Net Impact participated in the month long event in November. Two team members partnered with the university’s Changemaker Hub and Aromas and held a weekly coffee hour where they bought a cup of coffee for anyone who brought their own mug.

“The challenge really fostered community building and working together toward sustainable changes,” said Taylor Kilpatrick, a senior majoring in international relations with a minor in environmental studies. “I hope the idea of conscious consumerism and environmental responsibility sticks with people beyond this competition. If we converted even a few people to reusable coffee cups, I would consider the campaign a success.

USD won first place in the social awareness division and will use the $2,000 prize for a sustainability project. They are considering using the funds for composting or reusable dishes in Aromas or the Missions Café.

Now don’t think this only involves colleges and universities. Kill the Cup also has campaigns for corporate offices and coffee shops. If you are a corporate office that wants to join in on this fun send an email to If you are a coffee shop you can send an email to

After the huge success in 2014, they are whipping out a 2015 University Challenge. For more details and registration check out the form here. This is a great opportunity to change your environmental behavior and win prizes while you’re at it. Remember, “If You Waste Paper Cups No One Will Like You.”