The ‘Plastic Tide’ in numbers – Where does your cup go?

A worker spreads out plastic bags for recycling at Dombivili on the outskirts of Mumbai December 5, 2009. India set a goal on Thursday for slowing the growth of its greenhouse gas emissions, the last major economy to offer a climate target four days before the start of U.N. talks on combating global warming. REUTERS/Arko Datta (INDIA ENVIRONMENT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS IMAGES OF THE DAY)

In this chapter of the Disposable cup book of scares we will be dealing with some of the staggering facts surrounding the consumption of plastics in our society.

Disposable cups, Comrade, are contributing to the overwhelming global plastic crisis we humans find ourselves in. For it is a problem we humans alone have created as plastic is a substance the earth just cannot digest.

The facts that follow have been sourced from the Plastic Pollution Coalition. Their movement is to create a plastic free would and encourage individuals to deny plastic products in their every day lives. As you’ll soon discover Comrade, to achieve this goal would benefit the planet on a global scale.

But I’ll let the facts speak for themselves…

Plastic never goes away.

Plastic is a durable material made to last forever, yet illogically, 33 percent of it is used once and then thrown away. Plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces.

Plastic piles up in the environment.

Americans discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year. Only 8 percent of that gets recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, is incinerated, or becomes the invasive species known as  ‘litter.’

Plastic spoils our groundwater.

There are thousands of landfills in the United States. Buried beneath each one of them, plastic leachate full of toxic chemicals is seeping into groundwater and flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.

Plastic poisons our food chain.

Even plankton, the tiniest creatures in our oceans and waterways, are eating microplastics and absorbing their toxins. The substance displaces nutritive algae that creatures up the food chain require.

Plastic attracts other pollutants.

Manufacturers’ additives in plastics, like flame retardants, BPAs and PVCs, can leach their own toxins. These oily poisons repel water and stick to petroleum-based objects like plastic debris.

Plastic affects human health.

Chemicals leached by plastics are in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.

Plastic threatens wildlife.

Entanglement, ingestion and habitat disruption all result from plastic ending up in the spaces where animals live. In our oceans alone, plastic debris outweighs zooplankton by a ratio of 36-to-1.

Plastic costs billions to abate.

Everything suffers: tourism, recreation, business, the health of humans, animals, fish and birds—because of plastic pollution. The financial damage continuously being inflicted is inestimable.

TAKE THE 4Rs PLEDGE

REFUSE disposable plastic whenever and wherever possible. Choose items that are not packaged in plastic, and carry your own bags, containers and utensils. Say ‘no straw, please.’

REDUCE your plastic footprint. Cut down on your consumption of goods that contain excessive plastic packaging and parts. If it will leave behind plastic trash, don’t buy it.

REUSE durable, non-toxic straws, utensils, to-go containers, bottles, bags, and other everyday items. Choose glass, paper, stainless steel, wood, ceramic and bamboo over plastic.

RECYCLE what you can’t refuse, reduce or reuse. Pay attention to the entire life cycle of items you bring into your life, from source to manufacturing to distribution to disposal.

Subscribe to Plastic free times – End the Cup Madness

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Disposable cups = Disposable trees

Verso_BucksportpaperMill

How many trees are cut down every year to create single use disposable cups for the sake of convince?

As you’ll sadly remember Comrade, it’s estimated that 500 billion disposable cups are discarded to landfill every year. That’s one million cups a minute, every hour, every day of every year.

We know the appalling statistics – we witness them on a daily basis.

What’s even more staggering Comrade, is the ugly underbelly that underpins the manufacturing industry for these tiny heinous products.

Deforestation: According to Sustainability Is Sexy more than 6.5 million trees were cut down in 2006 to create the 16 billion paper cups thrown away.

Why don’t manufacturers use recycled paper? Firstly, FDA regulations are strict when it comes to allowing recycled paper pulp to be in direct contact with food and beverages. Secondly, recycled paper isn’t strong enough to hold a liquid.

Therefore, most paper cups are made from 100% virgin paperwood.

Worldwide consumption of paper has risen by 400% in the past 40 years, with 35% of harvested trees being used for paper manufacture.

Paper-making is a harsh, destructive extremely resource intensive process.

Not only does it involve stripping the land to create wastelands and deserts, the pulping industry also contributes devastating environmental impacts.

Such as air pollution, water pollution and waste.

Air pollution:

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are all emitted during paper manufacturing. Nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide are major contributors of acid rain, whereas CO2 is a greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.

Water pollution:

Wastewater discharges for a pulp and paper mill contains solids, nutrients and dissolved organic matter which will dissolved in fresh water, exacerbate eutrophication (the ecosystem’s response to the addition of artificial or natural substances)

of fresh water bodies and (in sever cases) kill higher living organisms.

Waste:

Paper waste like other wastes faces the additional hazard of toxic inks, dyes and polymers that could be potentially carcinogenic when incinerated, or comingled with groundwater via traditional burial methods such as modern landfills.[1]Fortunately most the paper industries in the US, Australia and Europe manage their forestry with sustainable practices but the production of paper products still continues to have a profound effect on our planet.

Trees are like Carbon Dioxide sponges and with every dimished tree we remove the planets natural Carbon Dioxide filter and also release more carbon into the atmosphere from the soil.

(The process of Carbon absorption by trees compacts into the soil where, after millions of years, it creates the fossil fuels.)

Cutting down trees, exposes this soil and allows this carbon stored in the soil to be released back into the atmosphere.)

Every cup ever manufactured associates an exhaustive list of environmental problems, which are only accentuated by their widespread usage among coffee drinkers. The entire process requires a substantial amount of water, energy… and a lot of trees.

Respect our beautiful resources and say no to disposable cups. #endthecupmadness

[1] The Environmental impact of paper, 2015.

<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_paper&gt;

Image source: <http://www.conbio.info/post/tag/forest-industry/&gt;

The Paper Cup Problem – A Break Down.

landfill

Everyday many of us decide to take our coffee away in a paper cup.

Think about it. How many cups (and be honest) of takeaway coffee do you consume on average in a day? Lets say, two every working day and two over the weekend. That’s about 12 every week. Doing the math, that’s about 624 takeaway paper coffee cups a year and on average per person.

It is easy to imagine the environmental consequence of this decision — billions of cups, millions of trees and tons of greenhouse gases (estimates vary) every year.

The word “paper” might suggest that the paper cup is easily recycled and that it is not as bad as its plastic cousin. However, most paper cups are coated with a plastic resin (i.e., polyethylene) for durability and convenience, therefore making both their composting and recycling uncommon and raising the specter of carcinogenic chemical leeching.

Moreover, the environmental cost of using disposable coffee cups is in the energy and resources used for the production, the shipping and particularly the disposal of each cup.

According to one study on the environmental impacts of paper cups, each cup, taking into account the paper, the paper sleeve, production and shipping, emits about 0.11 kilograms of CO2.

Depending on forestry practices (and whether they are sustainable or not) paper cup production results in loss of trees, ecosystem degradation and a reduction in the planet’s carbon absorption capacity.

In our world of shrinking forests and growing landfill, continued use of the paper cup is both redundant and unsustainable.

This is the Paper Cup Problem Comrade. This is its effect, this is our problem, and we will see the solution.

It all starts and ends with you, Comrade – End the Cup Madness.

What is this Madness?

spilled_coffee_by_gossigo

You may be shocked an appalled to realize that your innocent disposable paper cup filled with your favorite takeaway coffee is not going to see a brighter future once it leaves your hot, caffeinated hands.

No, the lifeline of the disposable paper cup is a lot more sinister then that Comrade.

That cup will go DIRECTLY to LANDFILL to join billions it’s of crumpled, hopeless friends to spend eternity encased in plastic coatings that prohibit any form of biodegradation or decomposition. Together, in a vengeful spite towards this convenience driven society – whom have so easily thrown them away and long forgotten their plight – will proceed to emit methane gasses into the atmosphere that have the global warming potential 21 times that of carbon dioxide. Although we cannot see their torment we can acutely feel the realities of global warming setting in on our planet – we all know this, yet we choose to burry our faces easily in more and more disposable cups.

But Comrade, lets not blame the cup, for they are only a product of consumer demands and negligence. Plastic pollution is a global problem that humans alone, have caused, and will only continue if we do not spread the message and end the madness. You, Comrade are the solution!! Together, we can end this sad cycle of hopeless waste and stop disposable cups from defiling our planet.

Over the next few weeks we will be critically reflecting on the effects the ‘Paper Cup Problem’ are reeking on our environment and the solutions available to lowering your cup consumption. We will be exploring the cups themselves, coffee culture, deforestation, ocean pollution, plastics pollution, Co2 emissions and the effects of landfills, and how they are all contributed to, and caused by, disposable paper cups.

Small, conscious actions  will make a difference however, Comrade. Choose to always reuse, refuse disposable cups and carry your own cup. We all know that without consumer demands, the supply chain dries up.

Lets nurture a culture of reuse Comrade, and together we can spread this increasingly important message to:

End the Cup Madness

Who is End the Cup Madness?

End the cup Madness is a movement!

A movement to raise awarenessof the issues surrounding single use disposable cups and to nurture a culture of reuse.

End the Cup Madness will bring you an inside look into the long term effects these cups are having on our environment, solutions for change and how we can achieve a disposable cup free world.

For it is madness that we find ourselves in Comrade, but people like you can end it.

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