Keep the coffee, lose the cup

I was talking with some friends of mine the other day about oil spills, and eventually the conversation moved into things like smog, pollution, garbage, and so on. All of us had concerns about the state of the planet, however, few of us were exactly sure what they could do to help — especially in an uncertain economy.

A huge pile of coffee cups and trash
Ugh. And we do this every day.

“I know I should do things like insulate more and upgrade my furnace and so on,” said one, “but that’s expensive even with the tax credits and we’re on a tight budget. What else is there?”

Leaving aside the math involved in how much you save with energy retrofits, there are a number of little — and inexpensive — things you can do to make a big difference. I’m going to list 1001 of them in fact, starting with this one:

1. Coffee cups

Let’s start with that morning cup of coffee. Like a lot of people, I need a cuppa joe to get going in the morning, and sometimes it’s not always convenient to brew it up at home. Either I’m running late, or there’s only me drinking it and it doesn’t make sense to brew a pot for one cup. (Plus, who wants to get halfway to work and think: Did I leave that coffee pot on?)

Coffee shops on every corner make it easy to grab a cup en route. The problem is what to do with that paper cup afterward. The city of Toronto, I’m told, goes through something like one million cups per day. That’s a lot of trash.

The solution is simple — get a travel mug. If you can’t score one for free (lots of companies give them away as promotional items), they’re inexpensive (anywhere from $5–$20), and many coffee chains — like Tim Horton’s — actually knock down the price of your coffee if you present one for a fill-up. Invest in a good, stainless steel/insulated one, and you’ll find they’re easy to clean and keep your coffee warmer longer.

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Comments

  1. Philana says

    This sounds like a really good idea & I’m all for saving the environment and creating less waste however, here are a few things I’ve noticed:
    1. Coffee from those paper cups taste different from that in a reusable mug. Could it be the sheer wickedness of the deed or the waxy inner coating that might one day be determined to be a cause of cancer?
    2. Or it could also be that it tastes different because the barista is confused by the size of the cup.. so the med double-double now contains more coffee than one from the company’s cup.
    3. To prevent #2 from happening, Ive seen people mixing the coffee in a new paper cup then pouring into the reusable mug. Then throwing away the cup… so same difference.
    4. Reusable cups can be hard to upkeep… after a while the rubber seal in the lid absorbs the coffee which is yucky.. you can wash it with some bleach but then it smells bleachy. However I’ve seen ceramic mugs for sale now but I havent given them a try as yet. Maybe one day soon.

    And at tims you can get a plastic mug for less than $5, first tea/coffee is free. There is no rubber lining in the lid but it doesn’t keep my beverage hot as long as more expensive ones.

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