Beginning this semester, Coffeehouse is altering its existing customer rewards program. Now, customers will only receive a hole-punch when they bring in a mug to use for their drink. After 10 punches, they earn a free drink of their choosing. Coffeehouse has recently taken other sustainability steps, including offering napkins made of recycled material and in-house mugs.
Previously, patrons would receive a punch for every drink they purchased, and received a free drink after 10 punches.
Coffeehouse General Manager Mandy Weaver said the previous program aimed to conserve paper, since Coffeehouse chose to use cup sleeves rather than the preprinted cards typical of similar loyalty programs.
“The original reason we tried to use the sleeves was because then we didn’t have to use actual punch cards, another use of paper,” Weaver, a Martel College junior, said.
She said Coffeehouse hoped that customers would reuse the sleeve on their new drink.
“It would hopefully suggest to them that they should use less of the sleeves,” she said.
Travis Kwee, president of the Rice Environmental Club, said he admires the program.
“Customers produce an unconscionable amount of waste by sending hundreds of thousands of cups and straws into the landfill each month and this is a great incentive for them to reconsider their habits,” Kwee said.
The punch program is not Coffeehouse’s only recent sustainability effort: over the past year, the student-run business has begun to offer napkins made of recycled paper.
Coffeehouse has also worked with the Rice Environmental Society, which it joined as a voting member in 2016. With RES support, Coffeehouse hosted “Sustainability Week” last March.
During that week, Coffeehouse offered a 50 cent discount on drinks for patrons who brought their own mugs and sold steel can tumblers at a reduced price. Weaver said she had observed an increase in the number of customers who brought their own mugs.
Another sustainability initiative is the rag service, introduced by previous General Manager Harrison Lin. Instead of disposable rags, Coffeehouse now works with a linen service to launder and reuse rags. Lin said this service has eliminated the disposal of approximately 4,000 single-use rags a year.
Lin also noted that Coffeehouse composts 30,000 pounds of coffee grounds a year in partnership with Rice’s Urban Agricultural Club.
Weaver said these policies show the business’ commitment to sustainability.
“I think everyone understands that Coffeehouse is trying to be sustainable and we’re trying to encourage it,” Weaver said.