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In an effort to draw attention to the amount of paper wasted by Harvard students, the Philips Brooks House Environmental Action Committee recently set out to count the number of paper cups thrown each day in the Freshman Union.
But through an ironic twist of fate, 20 full garbage bags of used cups--which were to have been displayed,--were accidently thrown out by Harvard employees.
"The goal was to demonstrate visually how much waste is going on there daily," EAC member Nick B. Kurzon '94 said of the project gone awry. "We just felt that people didn't realize the magnitude [of waste]," he said.
"It's really easy to go through and use one or two cups yourself and not realize how much they add up to," he added.
Kurzon and Jeremy B. Hockenstein '94, another EAC member, said Union Manager Kaye D'Andria estimated that students use between 8000 and 10,000 paper cups daily.
Hockenstein said that he and Kurzon asked students to separate their paper cups from the regular trash Tuesday in order to get a better estimate of how much paper is used. The two activists had planned to display the bags of disposed cups in the Union lobby the next day while selling reusable plastic mugs, they said.
But when students went to retrieve the cups yesterday from the private dining room where they had been stored with D'Andria's permission, the cups had apparently been thrown out by accident, Hockenstein said.
Kurzon, who said that Union workers had been extremely helpful with the project, attributed the mishap to some sort of communication misunderstanding.
"I was not very happy, but it's just made me more resolved that something has to be done," Hockenstein said.
The students said they plan to repeat the project in the future and that they hope to convince the administration to use glasses in the Union, Hockenstein said.
"If students [created this trash] individually--by using one or two cups--then they can stop it individually," Kurzon said. "By using a mug and just making a little effort, you can make a big difference."
Kevin M. O'Loughlin, the operations manager of Dining Services, said glasses are not offered in the Freshman Union because of a lack of space and the large number of people eating there. He added that the administration is considering ways to reduce the amount of paper cups used at the Union.
Alhough glasses are available in all the upperclass houses, O'Loughlin said, many students choose to use paper cups because they are larger.
"It would be helpful if everyone would use the glasses," O'Loughlin said. "The paper cups are there for when the students are leaving."
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