J500 Media and the Environment

how much responsibility should your coffee shop have? by jessicasb

Every time I walk into my favorite coffee shop downtown, I am greeted with a tiny sign explaining why it uses polystyrene cups.

Expanded polystyrene is mostly just air, it says, and is recyclable. A few months ago, another favorite coffee shop of mine made the switch from paper cups to polystyrene cups. This shop has even adopted the same friendly sign that reminds customers that no, polystyrene is nothing to be afraid of.

But polystyrene — a.k.a. styrofoam — is more harmful than that. It isn’t biodegradable at all and it’s tough to find polystyrene recyclers

It’s easy to understand why polystyrene is a popular material for businesses — it’s cheap (no additional cup sleeves) and does the trick (keeps hot drinks hot, cold drinks cold).

Santa Cruz County in California banned polystyrene products last year because of waste problems. Should every city — or green-minded coffee shop — be as proactive against this material?

I’ve tried to offset the use of polystyrene by my favorite coffee shops by bringing my own mug (I’ve never been to a cafe that didn’t give a discount for this!), or keeping any polystyrene cup I get coffee in and reusing it once or twice.

It isn’t just that my favorite coffee shops use polystyrene, though — it’s the fact that they try to defend it by making it seem harmless.

Does your favorite coffee shop use polystyrene cups? Or would you refuse to buy drinks there, at least when you’re on the go, if they did? And why do some businesses even try to still defend polystyrene?

— Jessica Sain-Baird

Thanks to kwanie for the picture.

4 Comments so far
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This may sound a little crazy but I don’t really go to coffee shops. I make a small pot at home and then I’m done for the day. But that amazes me that business are reverting back to such a disgusting product. Instead of defending their stupid decision they should really campaign for more patrons to bring their own mugs like you do Jessica.

Comment by mackenzies09

I try to make my own coffee at home, too, but as I am always running late, it’s easier for me to get my coffee elsewhere. 🙂

Comment by jessicasb

I get a lot of my work done at coffee shops and libraries so I make a habit out of putting a coffee cup in my backpack in case I need it!

Comment by tylerw09

[…] Waste + Recycling, Week 13 | Tags: barista, coffee, coffee shops, polystyrene A few weeks ago, I wrote about how two of my favorite coffee shops use polystyrene cups, one of those making the switch very […]

Pingback by can serving coffee in polystyrene cups be the ‘greener’ choice? « J500 Media and the Environment

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