Brewing sustainability one coffee at a time

To make the campus more sustainable, 193 Degrees Coffeehouse has implemented new ways to be eco-friendly over the past year and a half.

Super-senior environmental science major, and the Event and Environmental Coordinator, Jarrod Holgate, started the projects in fall of 2015. He and a friend would collect the coffee grounds and make a pile in his friend’s backyard. When he realized how much waste the coffeehouse was using, over 1,000 pounds by the end of last year, he wanted to implement it for the years to come.

“After I leave what are they going to do? Go to my friend’s house and throw compost in her backyard?” he said. So he began meeting with the Memorial Union, the Agronomy farm at the bottom of campus and with the waste management department on campus to get the project rolling. After approval, the coffeehouse was given buckets to dump the grounds into. When the buckets get picked up they are given three more and cycle through them.

“That was a big victory for this place because pretty much nowhere else on campus composts,” he said.

The coffeehouse also uses compostable paper straws and only give straws to people who say they want them. According to Holgate, the coffeehouse is only one of about four places in the northeast that has taken a pledge to use paper straws through a site called thelastplasticstraw.org. On the site, 193 Degrees Coffeehouse is the only place listed in Rhode Island that uses paper straws.

To further their sustainability, they also use reusable mugs and use linguini instead of wooden stirrers. The linguini breaks down better than the wooden stirrers and are over all better for composting and sustainability. The coffeehouse also promotes and advertises environmental ideas with things such as books that show the effects of environmental degradation. People who eat food in the coffeehouse are also welcome to put the leftovers in the compost bins if it is compostable.

Holgate admits it was difficult to get everything accomplished that they have done.

“I think about places like the dining hall, and it was so hard for [us] and we’re one place that seems pretty insurmountable for the amount of waste that a place likes the dining hall chucks out,” he said. “I feel good about it. The biggest thing for me was setting it up in a way that once I leave it keeps going. It becomes more about being a part of the place then being a part of me.”

“The most important thing is the longevity of it and legitimacy of it,” Holgate said.

Students that attend the coffeehouse and staff that work there say they like what it is doing regarding sustainability.

Shannon Cron, co-coordinator of the coffeehouse, said she is really glad that the composting was started.

“It feels good knowing you’re saving that much space in a plastic garbage bag that’s going to a landfill,” she said. “At the coffeehouse, it’s an indispensable complement to the things we sell, for example, from Equal Exchange, tea, chocolate and New Harvest, the coffee. Our mission of being a fair trade/locally sourced/sustainable/non-profit small business is going pretty strong right now.”

“Coffeehouse doing sustainable things is cool,” said senior J.P. Govan, a regular at the cofeehouse. “[They’re] literally the only organization at URI that composts. Hopefully their motives make the rest of URI get their stuff together.”

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Caitlyn Picard
Caitlyn is a senior journalism and English major who has been on the Cigar since her sophomore year. Now as co-News Editor, Caitlyn is hoping to gain more experience in the field that she can hopefully use in her life after URI. caitpic@my.uri.edu