A couple of months ago, Marilyn and I met for coffee at Einstein Bros. Bagel. She had remembered her reusable cup. To which, I said, “Oh, you’re so good! I wish I had remembered!” Oh, the guilt of having to throw away my coffee cup! But seriously, these disposable coffee cups add up.
We Americans sure do love our coffee. My husband and I cannot leave our
house without brewing enough to take to work with us.
So, what’s the problem?
According to Carbonrally.com, by some estimates, Americans drink more than 100 billion cups of coffee per year. Of that, at least 14 billion are bought in disposable cups. Placed end-to-end, these cups would wrap around the Earth 55 times and weigh 900 million pounds!
Paper and cardboard make up over 40% of the solid waste buried in North American landfills. Of that 40%, a disproportionate amount is attributable to disposable coffee cups. Unlike newspaper and cardboard boxes, disposable paper cups are not recyclable. The thin lining that makes a paper cup waterproof also keeps it from being recycled. All of those cups end up in our nation’s landfills.
The manufacture of the coated paper stock used in making coffee cups requires energy. It also takes energy to manufacture cups from the paper stock. And then it takes more energy to transport the completed coffee cups from the factory to the coffee shops. All of that energy most likely comes from the burning of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere.
What can you do about this?
Way #2 – Take your reusable travel mug to the coffee shop.
If you can commit to doing this 5 days a week, you can potentially reduce your carbon emissions footprint by 1.25 lbs. This number is based on a report done by Starbucks and Alliance Environmental Innovation Joint Task Force that equates a CO2 savings of 0.25 lbs. per medium-sized coffee cup. So if you’re drinking the equivalent of a large coffee in your travel mug, you are cutting down your CO2 emissions even further.
Financial Incentives in Fairfield and beyond
In addition to helping to reduce your personal garbage output by bringing in your reusable travel mug, many businesses will give you a discount when you do so. Some will only give you a discount when you buy their cup, but still, they see the virtues of doing their part in helping us and them reduce our overall carbon footprint.
- Einstein Bagel Bros., coffee with any travel mug, not just theirs. They offer the largest discount among those in this list.
- Dunkin Donuts will give you a free refill when you first buy their travel mugs, which come in different sizes. Coffee is discounted each time you bring in your D and D mug.
- Starbucks gives a $0.10 discount with any travel mug.
- The Donut Inn will also give you a discount with any travel mug.
Frugal and sustainable! You know I love that.
Sure, it also takes energy to heat the water used to wash these travel mugs. Consider washing in colder water during the week and hot water on the weekends.
For some folks, the hardest part may be remembering to take the travel mug with them. Here’s your help in developing a routine that sticks.
Why consider aiming for Zero Waste in Fairfield and beyond?
With over 14 billion disposable cups of coffee being made every year, think about the difference you can make when you make this little change, even just a few times a week.
Let me know if you have a favorite area coffee shop in Fairfield (or beyond) that gives a reusable cup discount, and I will add it to the list above.