Earth Day 2011: A Case for Reusable Coffee Cups

A Google search for “Reusable Coffee Cups” yields 301,000 entries from which to choose.  And a quick glance shows many such cups advertised for less than $10.

Last year in the U.S. we consumed the equivalent of over 9 million trees in the making of coffee cups, which during the manufacturing processes required nearly 6 billion gallons of water.  The rate of increase in the usage of cups is also staggering, mostly due to the huge increase in the number of coffee shops.

So with 23 billion coffee cups being used in the country this year, how about we just step up our recycling efforts?  Two problems with that.  First, using recycled paper isn’t a good solution because recycled paper doesn’t hold liquid well; and also because the FDA has some strict guidelines about using recylcled paper for use in something being consumed.  Second, coffee cups are laminated with a plastic which then makes the cups inappropriate for recycling - and only good for landfills.

This year we will dump into landfills nearly 400 million pounds of solid waste from coffee cups, which will then decompose and give off their heat-trapping methane gas.

The obvious best thing to do for our environment - and our kids - is to make that under-$10 investment in a reusable cup!


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