A common reaction to the excessive use of disposable coffee cups is: “Why donʼt we just recycle them all?” A study conducted by the The IPSOS Focus Groups in Toronto in 2009 indicated that almost all participants believed coffee cups to be recyclable.
For most people, a cup of coffee or a hot beverage is an integral part of their day. Most of us even consider it to be a solemn rite or ritual to be performed with utter reverence to their divine barrister deities.
Its estimated that 70 percent of coffee cups are used as part of a our daily routine or ritual (Source Data: IPSOS 2008) to keep people going or simply to treat themselves to a steaming mug of their favourite roast.
Yet, consumer attitudes towards the environmental repercussions utilising disposable cups are generating are perpetuated by persistent convictions in that placing disposable cups into the recycling bin is green enough.
According to Shana Weber, the manager of sustainability at Princeton University, many people think recycling is equal to sustainability and because recycling generates a ʻfeel goodʼ effect, consumers donʼt feel the need to change their habits to reduce waste by using a reusable cup.
We live in a society where markets dictate our actions, whether consciously or not, and therefore, in order to sell us more, will hid the ugly underbelly or truth that underpins that entire commodity if necessary.
Disposable packaging products are no different.
So how has this icon become synonymous with our coffee drinking experience?
As far as habits and rituals go, the coffee run can sometimes be a tricky one to alter. For many of us, it’s ingrained as a two or three a day habit and one that is interconnected with socialising, networking and meetings. It can also be highly stylised and an individualised habit, with everyone having his or her preferred coffee, café and disposable cup. The takeaway coffee cup serves as a brand or label and in many ways, receiving your takeaway coffee is an incidental status symbol, as it shapes the identity of the user and café.
Marketing and advertising create the foundations for the ways in which we, as consumers, shape our perceptions, convictions, habits, beliefs and actions. We are apart of a larger chain of interrelated events in which media and advertising manufacture our emotional attachments / world convictions (affect theory) in order to sell their proscribed utopian vision = $$$$ for them and (believed) happiness within the consumer
Perhaps this thought-provoking video, by Gary Turk will help to examine how consumerism has taken over our lives and the implications of living in a society where markets create problems so that they can sell us solutions as a way in which to further examine this issue.