EcoSwag

New students please come by our office to claim your free EcoJug!

In 2009, Western Michigan University (WMU) created a novel, and as far as we know unprecedented, waste reduction initiative. During the first few weeks of school, each incoming WMU student is given a free, high-quality, ISO-certified, 18 oz. stainless steel water bottle.

This program—which has a variety of incentives associated with it—is designed to do much more than counteract disposable cup use on campus. It’s an innovative model for introducing students to our campus’ sustainability commitments and for stimulating long-term, meaningful behavior change. In the past, students have been given EcoMugs, stainless steel coffee tumblers, currently we only offer "EcoJug" water bottles. The Office for Sustainability is in the process of researching additional student giveaways to promote a sustainability culture on campus. Such prospective items being considered include canvas tote bags, reusable silverware and bike safety gear. Be on the lookout during the 2018-2019 academic year for new EcoSwag! 

All students are eligible to receive one free EcoJug and can purchase addition jugs for $5.00, faculty, staff and the general public can purchase them for $7.00 at the Office for Sustainability during any business hours. 

History

The EcoMug concept was hatched in 2002 in ENVS 4100: Campus as a Living Learning Laboratory course. Students began by selling the mugs and working with local businesses to offer discounts, but the program did not achieve widespread adoption. After a few iterations the idea caught the attention of the Western Student Association (WSA), who funded the project until 2007.  In 2009, WSA passed a resolution that all incoming students should be given EcoMugs which was supported by President Dunn, the Office of Business and Finance, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Office of Community Outreach and the WMU Bookstore. During the same school year, new student researchers in the ENVS 4100 class conducted extensive quality control testing of over 60 types of reusable beverage containers. Ultimately 6,000 mugs were purchased and distribution began.

Since 2009, over 20,000 EcoMug have been distributed to students, faculty and staff. Major distributions occur at events during fall welcome week. Day to day distribution happens at the Office for Sustainability.

In 2011 WMU began installing filtered, chilled water bottle filling stations in campus buildings. Office for Sustainability and Facilities Management have collaborated to install hydration stations in most major campus buildings. Paid for with the Sustainability Fee, the project is intended to offer students, faculty and staff even more incentive to "lug your jug."