How to dine sustainably

Elyssa Buch, Contributing writer

Everyone loves going to the bookstore to get a coffee and a quick bite to eat before class. However, very few really think about the environmental impacts their purchases and actions have.

Much of what we get from the bookstore comes with individual packaging, most of which is immediately thrown away. There are multiple ways the environmental impact at the bookstore can be reduced, both through individual actions and policy changes.

For individuals, bring your own travel mug whenever possible. Not only will you be more sustainable, but you get a 10-cent discount on a regular hot coffee. You can also reduce your waste by not using a straw, as plastic drinking straws are made using nonrenewable resources, are nonrecyclable and are not reused.

If you do not use a reusable mug, make sure to dispose of the cup properly. Plastic cups can be rinsed out and recycled, while the paper cups must be thrown away. The lids, however, can be rinsed and recycled along with the cardboard sleeves.

The bookstore can also make small changes to become more eco-friendly. One step would be to make more drinks in reusable cups, and encourage their use. Clearly labeling the recycling bins would also make it easier for individuals to know what bin the various items should go into. More post-consumer products could be used, bringing in cups and napkins made of recycled materials.

The most important change to make is how baked goods are sold.

Rather than individually wrapping each item, muffins and bagels could be kept in airtight compartments during the stay in the bookstore and then, when purchased, put into paper bags made of post-consumer products which can later be recycled. Or, if the purchaser intends to eat the snack immediately, it can be handed over with just a paper napkin, minimizing the environmental impact even more.

These types of changes would also save the university money, as plastic wrap costs around 10 cents per square, compared to paper bags or napkins, which when bought in bulk each cost only a penny a piece (

By working to reduce your own impact and working together on campus to get the bookstore to make some small adjustments, the Mercyhurst Bookstore can become a much greener place.