Coffee Cups

We've all seen it. Trash bins overloaded with discarded coffee cups…plastic, styrofoam, and…"recyclable" cups.

It is estimated that 2.5 billion single-use coffee cups are discarded globally every year. This equates to a staggering 5000 every minute. Only around 1% of single-use cups are actually recycled.

While the propaganda from many of the industry’s big players claims that disposable coffee cups are recyclable, this is not always the whole truth.

Coffee cups are mostly made from paper, obviously a recyclable material. However, to make them waterproof and able to hold drinks, they are lined with polyethylene plastic.

In order to be recycled, this polyethylene layer needs to be removed. Unfortunately, this is a tricky procedure and there are only a few facilities in the U.S. where it can be done. This means that, in reality, the vast majority of these single-use cups end up in landfill.

Starbucks is the biggest coffee company in the world and the impact of its waste on our water, oceans, and health is dramatic. More than a decade ago, the company committed to change. It pledged to introduce a fully recyclable cup by 2015 and to selling at least 25% of its drinks in reusable cups. To date, Starbucks has yet to develop that recyclable cup and only 1.6% of the drinks it sells are consumed in non-disposable cups or mugs.

The solution is simple and lies right in your kitchen. We all have a favorite mug (or least favorite that you can't wait to remove from the cupboard). Take it…leave one in your car…leave one on your desk…keep one in your bag. It's the only way to ALWAYS have a reusable mug when you need it. Most coffee shops will pour your coffee in your clean mug…including Starbucks.

And mason jars work great for iced drinks, if that's how you roll. That spaghetti sauce jar is nothing but an iced coffee cup in disguise. Wash it out, make it pretty if you want, pop on a lid, and go.

So that's it. Commit this week to breaking the take-out-cup habit.

Coffee tastes better in a nice mug anyway.