Red Cup, Blue Cup, Green Cup,... Reusable Cup?

Red Cup, Blue Cup, Green Cup,... Reusable Cup?

Hey, I get it.  Really, I do.  Coffee, that warm,steaming cup of pure golden bliss, I get it. I get the desire, need…even the addiction to that beautiful cup of caffeinated heaven.  It’s my favourite morning treat.  Some would say it’s my morning necessity (I admit it; mornings and I are not friends, not even close acquaintances.  Mornings are, in fact, my nemesis!).  And let’s not forget you drinkers of tea.  You are not exempt from the morning cravings or afternoon pick-me-ups that coffee drinkers experience.  One of my favourite things to do is meet a friend at the local coffee shop of choice and spend an hour or two catching up.

Having spent those precious moments with friends in the local coffee establishment of choice, I’ve noticed (and been guilty of) a troubling trend.  We are a big community of, well, for lack of a better term…landfill lovers.  A great big community of friend loving, coffee/tea drinking landfill lovers.  Now I know that some of you are thinking, “But Susan, how could you call me a landfill lover?”, and really, the answer is simple.  I recently spent an hour in a local coffee shop observing the comings and goings of local residents.  Amongst all the business meetings, friends gathering, coffee and tea drinking I noticed that a majority of patrons participated in two major eco-crimes:

1. They asked for their coffee/tea/insert drink of choice in a “to-go” cup (whether they were staying in or leaving) and a majority of those that stayed (12 of the 20 I observed while doing my ultra-secret undercover mission) finished their drink before leaving the establishment and left their “to-go” cup sitting on the table or threw it away before leaving which we all know, translates to those cups going into the trash and eventually hauled to our local landfill.

2. Most people getting their coffee to actually “go” did not bring a reusable mug instead opting for a paper cup, which again, will end up in our local landfill.

See…landfill lovers.  Now you may ask why that’s a problem and here is the answer for those analytical, logical, proof-needing left brainers out there:

By the numbers;
(According to the University Health Network)

  •     Canadians dispose of 1.6 billion paper coffee cups per year
  •     1.6 billion coffee cups = 650,000 trees cut + 400,000,000 gallons of water used to produce cups
  •     400,000,000 gallons of water = 606.1 Olympic sized swimming pools filled
  •     Average paper coffee cup is used for 10 – 15 minutes and spends 500 years in a landfill

500 years in a landfill?  Yep, you read that right.  Most paper cups are covered with either a wax or plastic (polyethelyne) film to prevent liquid from leaking through the cup.  That’s good for the consumer (you) but bad for the environment (the place YOU live) as that protective film also protects the paper from breaking down.

Still not convinced that your reusable mug should accompany you on all trips to the local coffee shop?  How about saving money?  Would that entice you?  What if I told you that most coffee /tea/yummy-tummy-warming establishment’s offer anywhere from $0.10 to 10% off any drink that goes into a reusable mug?  Ahhh, that’s better, right?  Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Esquires, Cool Beans and Whole Wheat and Honey all offer discounts to the eco-conscious, mug-toting patrons that walk through their doors!  With the wide variety of reusable mugs now available and one of the Consumer Reports top 3 reusable mugs of 2014 coming in at the amazing price of $9.99, you can go from being a landfill lover to an eco-conscious coffee/tea drinker sporting the newest kind of accessory!

So drink up fellow coffee and tea lovers and join me in the reusable mug revolution!

Written by:  Susan McGarvey, Eco-Advisor at NEAT