Filed under: Business + Politics, Energy + Climate, Food + Health, Society + Media, Waste + Recycling | Tags: cafes, coffee shops, polystyrene, santa cruz county, small business, styrofoam
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.
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