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Driving change at universities: oikos Reutlingen gets rid off disposable cups on their campus

Get inspired by this amazing story from oikos Reutlingen, where our passionate oikos members fought and won to permanently ban the use of disposable cups on their campus. Learn from their experience and create a disposable-cup free zone at your university. Everyone can be a part of the change towards a more just and sustainable future – start by saying no to disposable cups!

Anatomy of the project

Goal: The goal of oikos Reutlingen’s undertaking was simple to ban non-reusable cups at the Reutlinger campus. The road to accomplishing the goals was not simple, but they were determined and started their campaign by raising awareness on how much waste is generated through the students’ weekly coffee consumption.

The first steps: The first stakeholder they reached out to was the Mensa canteen responsible for providing these cups. They team learned that the person in charge of Mensa had contemplated the idea of eliminating disposable cups and appreciated the oikess help to explain other students what layed behind the intention of abandoning this inconvenient product. Thanks to the collaboration, they were allowed to use the space in front of the Mensa and display the huge number of cups they collected over a few days.

Getting ready for a big display: Students in teams or alone were collecting cups for two hours per day for five days. Within a week oikos Reutlingen collected nearly 1000 disposable cups. With the additional support of seven people, they prepared a disposable cup installation in front of the Mensa canteen to visualize the volume of the waste.

The pile of cups made students understand how much non-recyclable waste they generate within just a week. It means that in one school term 14400 cups are used and wasted by students. After the display, no single-use coffee cup was handed out by the Mensa staff.

Expert advice: Before getting rid of the cups, it is important to present alternative ways for the students to get their coffee on the campus. They can either bring their own cup or use one of the ceramic cups at the canteen. The key to the successful implementation of the campaign is to present this zero waste project on oikos’ social media channels and explain how this undertaking could have a positive impact on the environment. The 1000 cups (or rather lack of them) can make all the difference!

Reach out to Anna-Lena Härtl of oikos Reutlingen at to learn more about their experience.