Your Coffee Mug is Going to Save the World
Our planet is under attack by an unlikely enemy. Sadly, it’s an enemy that working people just can’t seem to live without; the glorious disposable coffee cup. Every morning we stop at the coffee shop to grab a cup of our favorite hot beverage. Once we are finished and without a second thought, we toss our empty cup into the trash can and go about our day as usual. What we don’t realize is that our beloved disposable coffee cup is killing our environment. There is a lot that we can do to combat this issue, but first let’s examine the problem and identify how your coffee mug is going to save the world (seriously!).
The Disposable cup problem.
– Only 1% of the earth’s water is available for drinking, and every year over 4 billion gallons of it are used to produce paper cups.
– Americans use over 16 million paper cups every year, which results in the loss of 6.5 million trees.
– Styrofoam cups are non biodegradable. It is the main contributor to water contamination, marine debris and can remain in the environment for over 1000 years.
– Styrofoam products contain a chemical called Styrene, a known carcinogen.
– Americans are responsible for 58% of the paper cup consumption in the world.
– The amount of trash that we produce has doubled since the 1950’s.
– Once in the hands of the consumer, the average lifespan of a disposable cup is only 15 minutes.
When you consider all of the resources used and environmental impact amassed to produce that paper cup, we have to ask ourselves. Is the convenience really worth it?
Why don’t we recycle paper and Styrofoam cups?
Paper beverage cups are coated with polyethylene, which is a thin plastic coating that prevents liquids from leaking. Unfortunately, it is this same plastic coating that prevents the cup from being recycled. In order to recycle a paper cup, this plastic coating needs to be removed and the process is very difficult, time consuming and expensive for recyclers to perform. Recyclers will only perform this process if they are supplied with enough paper cups to merit the labor and expense. There are many factors that go into preparing paper cups for recycling and sadly, there is currently no economical solution available for this problem.
Styrofoam poses a similar issue. The chemical name for Styrofoam is actually polystyrene. Due to it’s lightweight nature and complex chemical makeup, it’s super difficult and expensive to recycle. The California department of conservation estimates that it costs about $3000 per ton to recycle Styrofoam. This means that it is more expensive to recycle than it is to make new.
Strict laws also make it difficult to recycle. Law requires that your food container be uncontaminated by, well, food and other debris before recycling. This poses a major issue since Styrofoam is mostly used in the disposable food packaging market. In short, if you don’t wash your Styrofoam before throwing it away, it’ll just end up in a landfill.
Areas all over the country are beginning to ban Styrofoam food containers, coffee heavyweights are finding ways to recycle paper cups and offer cup discounts, awareness campaigns are in effect and bio plastic cup lining technology is emerging onto the market. That’s all great news, but what can the average person do to help combat the issue?
Super Mug to the rescue!
Your coffee mug is going to save the world. We all know that there are environmental factors associated with everything that we produce. Even the solutions to environmental issues carry some sort of carbon footprint, and choosing to use a coffee mug is no exception. But when compared to a paper or Styrofoam cup, the average tumbler is designed to be reused about 3000 times. Over the course of its life, that one tumbler has prevented the consumption and manufacturing of 3000 individual cups that would otherwise sit in a landfill! Inspired? Let’s make some moves people! Here’s how to get started.
Get yourself a cool mug.
It’s always great to use a mug that you already own. Maybe you have a one mug that doesn’t quite match all the rest in your collection. Bring that stand out mug with you to the office to have on hand when the coffee crave strikes. If you don’t have a mug, don’t worry! Get creative and check out some local second hand stores. Second hand stores are great because these mugs are usually very cheap and you can find some pretty cool designs. Not to mention you are buying an already existing item, which means zero carbon footprint! If second hand isn’t your thing, then go ahead and buy something new. Just make sure you buy a quality item so it will last you a long time.
Strategic placement is key.
Bring your coffee mug with you to work or keep one permanently at your desk. If you drive, keep your mug in your car for that roadside coffee pit stop. Having a clean mug on hand will help make it easier to access a cup on the go. Always keep a mug in the environment where you tend to have coffee the most.
Bring your awesome mug to the cafe.
Many coffee companies offer a cup discount for patrons who bring their own cup. Starbucks coffee is one company that participates in this program. Now you can save money, the environment and still have your favorite cup of Joe.
Recycle or donate.
Once that old mug has seen its final days, guess what? It can be recycled! Generally, most plastics, glass, metals and ceramics can be easily recycled. You can also choose to donate your old items if they are still in usable condition.
Start a paperless coffee campaign in your office.
Here at Shoplet and through our Care. Share. Grow. Campaign, we do everything we can to work towards a greener planet. Your office can start a campaign of its own. Why not try a campaign against disposable paper cups! Encourage your staff to go green with a reusable office mug. Gifting each employee a mug with the company logo will also help you build positive brand image among your staff while going green.
It might seem like a small thing, after all, it’s just a paper cup right? Well, maybe it’s time for all of us to wake up and smell the coffee. That one little cup doesn’t just hold your coffee. It carries the health of our planet too. Making the effort to be environmentally responsible and taking a small step to reduce our consumption can really go a long way.