The Autonomy of the Disposable cup – A recap.

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For all those coffee snobs out, This is a real look at what you’re holding when you grab you’re morning to Go coffee.

  1. The Lid

– Made of Polystyrene which is not accepted in curbside recycling programs

– Polystyrene may leach toxins into food products, especially when heated

– Polystyrene is used to make styrofoam and is classified as a grade 6 plastic

– Of all the plastics it has been advised to AVOID use of grade 6 plastics all together

– after throwing it ‘away,’ a polystyrene lid will continue to exist for hundreds of years.

– Polystyrene has the potential to transfer toxic chemicals into the food chain because it eventually breaks into smaller pieces and animals often mistake it for food.

  1. The Sleeve

–  Though the majority of sleeves are made of recycled material, most sleeves don’t end up being recycled.

– Unrecycled sleeves make up about 2.8 billion pounds of trash every year in landfills

– A coffee drinker can save 6-10 lbs of paper waste every year by simply substituting the cardboard sleeve with a reusable sleeve.

– 3 billion hot cup sleeves were produced in 2011

  1. The Cup

– Most paper cups are coated with plastic a low density polyethylene or grade 4 plastic which means they cannot be composted or recycled.

– Paper cups may consume more non-renewable resources than cups made of styrofoam

–  Paper cups are generally manufactured from virgin materials.

–  In 2006, Over 6.5 million trees were cut down to make 16 billion paper cups used by US consumers only for coffee in 2006, using 4 billion US gallons of water and resulting in 253 million pounds of waste.

– Overall, North Americans use 58% of all paper cups, amounting to roughly 130 billion paper cups.

–  Today it is estimated twenty million trees are cut down every year just to manufacture paper cups.

In conclusion, our To Go culture of coffee is not sustainable. It is damaging to the environment and our health. Today I am pledging to break my own habit of using paper cups and advocating that you also bring your own reusable to-go cup to your local shop, or sit for 15 minutes and enjoy a warm beverage in a ceramic cup at your cafe.

Continue reading “The Autonomy of the Disposable cup – A recap.”

Disposable Cups & Consumerism – Real feels.

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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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__9-VgvZYWM Continue reading “Disposable Cups & Consumerism – Real feels.”

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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