Despite the many successes of joint student-faculty collaboration for environmentalist initiatives throughout NYU Shanghai, there are still notable ones that have failed.

An example of a failed attempt from the fall 2022 semester was the metal cup initiative created and funded by Professor Yifei Li.

The experiment was to see if NYU Shanghai could sustain free metal cups on campus provided for when students wanted to drink water. These cups were available at the café, but could also be taken throughout the school, if they were later returned.

“But it was a failed experiment because everybody was losing them, throwing them away, taking them home, giving them away as gifts to friends,” Professor Li mentioned.

The cups were mainly brought to the school to reduce plastic bottles; however, Professor Li commented, “We were losing on average, I want to say 300 to 500 cups a month… And the janitors helped me recover a lot of cups from trash, even.”

Infographic explaining where Professor Li’s initial 6,000 metal cups went.

“I was… disheartened… even the janitors at the student dorm in Jinqiao, they were telling me that they found a lot of these metal cups in the dorm trash cans… people were bringing those back to the dorm and just throwing them away,” Professor Li explained.

Therefore, even though there are many successes within NYU Shanghai environmentalism, it is important to look at major failures such as this one, to point out where we can become better as a community.

The remaining 600 of the initial 6000 metal cups are still within the school; however, reluctance to put them back out has taken place where excitement was prior.