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Coffee is by far the best drug out there.
I have one or two nice coffees every day and I didn’t even like this stuff when I was still under my parent’s roof.
Now, I wouldn’t go as far as I don’t function without it, but it does make my day that little bit more exciting. In fact, some days, before I go to bed, I get so excited because I know when I wake up I get to drink my beloved coffee again.
But what if you have to rush out of the house and don’t have enough time to make yourself a brew at home? You get a drive in coffee or stop at your favourite barista for your quick caffeine fix.
Do you bring a reusable coffee cup? Or do you just opt in for the “paper cup” with “plastic lid”?
Now, there are several different ways to brew your coffee but in this article, I would like to talk about what we use to carry our coffee around in and understand if coffee cups are recyclable?
First up some numbers, we humans like numbers, right?
- 16 billion takeaway coffee cups are used every year
- 6.5 million trees cut down to make them
- 4 billion gallons of water used each year
- enough energy to power 54.000 homes each year – www.earthday.org
Now, this is only to make the coffee cups that we use on average for a couple of minutes before they go to landfill.
Can I recycle my coffee cup?
The Paper Cup: Even for the conscious coffee lover who recycles his or her cup can actually do more harm than good. Coffee cups are mainly made from paper with a thin membrane of polyethylene plastic on the inside.
The glue used to hold those paper cups together partially dissolves when the coffee is poured into the cup, releasing trace amounts of toxins, such as melamine.
This makes them un-recyclable along with cardboard or other papers. Which can even contaminate a whole load and then be sent to landfill.
You would have to peal the plastic membrane off and discard it separately.
Styrofoam: The styrofoam cup is made from polystyrene #6, a petroleum-derived material. In addition to the harm done to the planet, styrene is also considered carcinogenic and has been shown to leach from polystyrene, especially when the inside liquid was hot. Not so good to be drinking from.
Cardboard Sleeve: Most paper cups are already double-sided, which makes cardboard sleeves obsolete. Their only use then is for marketing purposes. Some cups actually need them so you don’t burn your fingers while holding your precious beverage.
Factor in the hefty use of resources that goes into producing sleeves and coffee cups are landing a triple blow to our environment.
I still love coffee
Yes, that is a lot of bad news for the little coffee cup. But luckily it is just bad news for the cup and not for the actual beverage. While there are actually some coffee take away cups that claim to be biodegradable or compostable, that sadly is just to make the consumer feel good.
Tim Silverwood says, “Biodegradable cups don’t compost in normal compost. It takes very specific industrial composting conditions, which are not available to the bulk of the population.”
What can the coffee lover of today do?
First of all, I have to also talk about the taste of coffee. If you are as serious as me about coffee and you want to know where the beans come from? What altitude did they grow in? Whether they have been washed or naturally dried? Well, you might want to skip the takeaway cup all around and choose one of these 2 options.
Take a seat: The best way to enjoy a nice cup of coffee is, in my opinion, while reading a book and having the world go by. In that case, you will be drinking your favourite coffee from a ceramic mug in the cafe. If you don’t have the time for that… Buy a reusable coffee cup: It just makes sense in so many ways and if you want to. be in the league of cool coffee lovers than they are a must. Oh and yeah you help the environment immensely. Here is a list of my favourite reusable coffee cups.
My favourite Coffee Cups
My personal favourite is the KeepCup with its cork sleeve. Not the cheapest but the coffee taste is great since it is glass and I love the natural look of it. You can get a cheaper version made from BPA free plastic but I have never considered them since I believe all plastics leach chemicals.
The lid is from Polypropylene #5 (considered safe) and is sealable. It is good for driving in your car but I wouldn’t chuck it in your backpack. Not with coffee in it. The glass is super strong and I have never had them break on me. The cork will give in after maybe a year or two of daily use. You could also get them with silicone sleeves. Many different styles from star wars to design your own. Made in Australia.
The Joco is the second cup I have come across. Although I have never used it, again it is a glass cup but instead of a plastic lid that is sealable, it comes with a silicone lid that is splashproof, and a silicone sleeve. Comes also in lots of different colours and even print on. According to my research, the silicon lid can sometimes come off and the sleeve doesn’t insulate that well. Pretty pricey.
The Travel Mugs
The Death Wish coffee mug from Klean Kanteen is a leak-proof double walled travel mug. It keeps your drink hot for up to 6 hours and cold for 24. The pirate version of coffee mugs. Arrr.
The Contigo is for the prize of $20 a pretty good travel cup. Keeps your drink warm and has a stylish look. Some people say the shape of the mouthpiece is a bit weird others are disappointed that it is not dishwasher safe. Start writing or type / to choose a block
Buy on AmazonThis is a pretty clever cup if you are really tight on space in your backpack. The Stojo collapses to a disk. Mugs made from safe, recyclable materials. No BPAs, phthalates, leads or glues. Food grade silicone cup, straw, and stopper.
The Zojirushi is a bestseller on Amazon and for a good reason. This slick looking travel mug keeps your beverage cold for 24 hours and hot for up to 6. It is not the cheapest.
Fun Fact: Zarf is the term for a coffee sleeve usually made of ornamental metal. So next time you see someone with a paper sleeve around their coffee you can be a smartarse and tell them it is called a zarf.
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Related: Zero Waste Challenge Day 3
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