By Eric Wisk
After one year of trying out the Cupanion Program, Rider received The Groundbreaker Award for its effort in diverting the use of more than 10,000 single-use bottles.
Under the “Fill it Forward” program and app provided by Cupanion, students received rewards for using reusable water containers. The university has saved 5,600 kilowatt-hour of power and 300 pounds of waste, according to a university press release.
Melissa Greenberg, the University’s sustainability manager, said she first had thoughts about the program at Rider when she was introduced to Cupanion and “Fill It Forward” at an Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference. Greenberg thought about it for a year before deciding to partner with the organization.
“The idea is to reduce our single-use bottles on campus. We have chilled filtered water available all over campus and nearly fifty bottle refill stations so we were really poised to do a program like this,” she said.
According to Greenberg, she was surprised by the rapid success of the effort.
“I didn’t know there was an award so when we got that, it was the icing on the cake. We were doing this [Cupanion] for other reasons so the award was a really nice surprise,” said Greenberg.
Despite the large positive environmental impact Rider created with the program, some students, like sophomore computer science major Chris Murphy, could not recall using Cupanion or “Fill It Forward.”
“I’ve never personally used this feature, so I don’t know what the rewards are like,” said Murphy.
Despite this, students expressed positivity about anything that would mitigate negative environmental impact.
“Anything that’s going to motivate the upcoming generations to reuse and recycle is a great thing,” Murphy continued. “People use the stations a lot too. I always see people in the hallway using it.”
Greenberg said she looked toward the future of plans that would bolster the university’s environmental bona-fides.
“We are looking to phase out bottled water on campus. This was something that was asked of us to research and to see how other campuses had done it and the push back that they experienced,” Greenberg said.
How students feel about these future plans remains to be seen, but some students at Rider are open to discussions of ideas that would encourage their fellow peers to be more environmentally conscious.
Speaking on the rewards students earn when using Cupanion, Murphy said, “Even if people aren’t in it for helping the environment; providing small rewards for healthy habits is a great way to go about encouraging young adults to reuse and recycle.”