this semester, for the first time ever, i included the following rule in intro to media studies:
Starting Tuesday (September 2), no drinking out of non-reusable containers. Be creative with your thirst-quenching solutions.
i wasn't sure if it was going to work, but i knew it was worth trying. on the first day of classes, i announced, "if you're thirsty, get a thermos and fill it with delicious california tap water. if you need caffeine, get a mug and fill it with coffee." then i paused and took a refreshing gulp or two out of my beloved blue bottle and said, "ahhhh."
throughout the semester, there were only a few infractions - a plastic water bottle accidentally brought to class, a can of red bull smuggled (unsuccessfully) into the back of class - but overall the students easily abided.
last tuesday was the last day of class for fall semester. we ate. we talked excitedly about our wikipedia project. we watched a few youtube clips, including human tetris, lemon baby, and guy vomiting on live tv news.
and then, before i left the room to allow students to fill out teacher evaluations, i asked them to take a moment to think about how much money we saved. i asked: "if i hadn't banned plastic bottles and aluminum cans and paper coffee cups, how many of you would have bought and brought to class a soda or bottled water or a latte?" i then asked the students to consider that intro met twice a week for the last fifteen weeks. the students sit in rows so i asked each row to calculate their totals. i walked over to the chalkboard and began adding up our totals.
the morning class saved $812.50
the afternoon class saved $1,528
in all, my students saved $2,340.50, a pretty nice chunk of change.
"imagine," i think i remember saying to my students, "how much money you'd save if you did this with all of your classes for your remaining time here at USF?" and i think i remember smiling upon hearing the distinct buzz of many brains calculating collectively.