College and beer pong go together like peanut butter and jelly. And what’s the universal staple of beer pong? The red solo cup, of course. You could play the game without them. You might even find a party on a college campus somewhere in the world without red solos as the serving receptacle of choice. But Toby Keith didn’t write an ode to “aluminum reusable canteens,” he wrote one about the red solo cup because it’s universal. Funny enough, there’s actually data to support it, too.
“On average, more than 200,000 solo cups per year are used at UC Berkeley, 2.65 tons of plastic waste,” according to the UC Berkeley Surfrider Foundation Club.
There are nine campuses in the University of California system alone. Twenty-three in the California State University system and countless more private universities in the Golden State. Assume any of those campuses are even in the same ballpark as UC Berkeley Surfrider’s data — which is still only accounting for public universities in one state — and the number of plastic solo cups being filled with beer and tossed away across the world each year is probably astronomical.
The revelation has sparked a campaign to rid the Cal campus of single-use solo cups and eventually all college campuses through UC Berkeley’s #NoSolo campaign. Earlier this year, Cal Surfrider won a $3,000 social media contest prize when members posted photos of themselves dressed studying in the university library wearing wetsuits and scuba gear. From there, they took the $3,000 prize to launch a project incentivizing students to make reusable cups the status quo at campus parties.
“College kids buy solo cups because they’re cheap and because they’re removed from the abominable repercussions that they have on our oceans and surrounding environment,” wrote club Co-President, Brian Nguyen. “Our event this Friday will address both issues.”
The club added that “UC Berkeley is a campus that has historically fostered social movements due to the forward-thinking students that are drawn to it. It’s the perfect platform to fulfill Surfrider’s vision, first at Cal and then expanding to other universities across the country.”
Beer pong will never be the same. But it’ll certainly put a dent in single-use plastic waste.