J500 Media and the Environment

Curbing Disposable Coffee Cup Waste by micolea

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I look forward to is having a cup of coffee. Over the past year, coffee has become one of my indulgences; I consume an average of three cups a day. Surprisingly, what makes drinking coffee so delectable for me is sipping it from my favorite red, reusable coffee mug.

By scrufus/Courtesy Flickr

I was astounded to learn that 58 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away each year, according to Betacup. What is even more staggering is The Coalition for Resource Recovery tells us that “if all paper cups in the US were recycled, 645,000 tons of waste would be diverted from the landfill.”

Photo by Toban Black/Courtesy Flickr  

Yes, I have contributed to this waste. In the past, I’ve purchased my grande cup of joe from coffee shops whose only option is serving coffee in a paper cup. I didn’t think twice about tossing those paper cups into the trash nor did I consider the abundant amount of trees, time and energy used to make and manufacture disposable coffee cups.

However, now that I am aware, I can no longer turn a blind-eye to this predicament. This is why I choose to drink my coffee out of a reusable coffee mug. In some small way I feel as though I am giving back to Mother Earth and making up for all of those paper cups I threw away.  

We live in a society where convenience is highly valued. It is more convenient to carry a light weight paper cup than it is to lug around a heavy reusable mug. Betacup is an organization aiming to curb the amount of waste generated by paper cup usage. They are calling on coffee drinkers and non coffee drinkers alike to submit their ideas and designs for a more desirable option to the reusable coffee mug. Through this contest, Betacup hopes it will result in a collaborative effort from people all over the globe sharing and giving feedback on ideas to come up with a supreme alternative.  

Habits are hard to break. Though, we can learn to embrace new ones. Generating conversations and ideas about how to conserve our environment and its resources is a great first step.

After all, the solution is in our hands.

Micole Aronowitz


8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I really enjoyed reading your post. I personally don’t drink coffee because of the taste, but I still think it is important to be concerned about issues like these. I suppose this issue could be related to other drinks like smoothies and hot chocolate, both of which I drink occasionally.

I think it is great that Betacup is starting this contest. I think we do need to find alternatives to these paper cups. I’m not sure what that alternative would be, but I think it is something to think about.
I was wondering if you had any ideas and designs for their contest?

Great post! I enjoyed reading it very much!
-Jackie M.

Comment by jackiemcc


Thanks for taking the time to read my post. You ask a great question. My idea would be to design a cup similar to the design of a disposable cup but made of a material that could be reused and also the material should be able to withstand the heat of the liquid. Basically, I think the cup should be light weight, easy to carry around and made of a reusable material. Thanks for your question!

Micole A.

Comment by micolea


I am wondering what made you choose to carry a reusable mug in the first place… before you read all of the stats? -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev


The reason why I choose to use a reusable mug is honestly, because to me, it feels weird drinking coffee out of a paper or styrofoam cup. I guess it was simply a matter of preference. Thanks for your question.

Micole A.

Comment by micolea

I’ll keep my question simple: do you have the same problem I do, where you occasionally forget your reusable cup because it’s so early and you, ironically, haven’t had your caffeine fix yet? It’s an awful catch-22.

~Ben C.

Comment by Ben


Yes, I have. And you’re right, it puts me in such a predicament. At those times, there have been instances where I have purchased my coffee in a paper cup. Although, on the other hand, I also will wait until I return home and then indulge in drinking as much coffee as possible! Thanks for your question.

Micole A.

Comment by micolea

I think that reusable mugs are great, but I think that they need incentive for people, like deals at coffee shops, etc. The same goes with those reusable bags for groceries; I have so many of them but somehow always forget to being them to the store. Do you think this will have more presence in time or do you think incentives are necessary?

Becca n

Comment by beccan


You bring up a great point. I agree with you that there should be incentives put in place to encourage and entice people to use reusable coffee mugs. Some coffee shops offer a discount for bringing in a reusable coffee mug.
I do think incentives are necessary in giving people that extra nudge to start to be a part of this environmental change.
Micole A.

Comment by micolea

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