Saving The World With Coffee Cups

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A while back, I obtained permission from Holly Boxrud at Rocky Mountain Soap Co. to re-print this article from their monthly e-newsletter. I thought it was a great idea, and wanted to share it with you.

At RMSC, we feel it’s important to do our part to be “green.” We are always looking for the most environmentally sustainable option…and we want to be a part of the solution, and not another part of the problem. In an effort to demystify the term sustainability, we decided to dedicate a small section of our monthly e-newsletter to all things Green. As author Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better..." Each month we will do our best to pass on tips we have learned and hopefully step by step we will all begin to make positive changes.

This month’s topic is near and dear to my heart as it involves my favourite thing: COFFEE. Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, or equivalent to 146,000,000,000 (146 Billion) cups of coffee per year; making the United States the LEADING CONSUMER of coffee in the world. Canada falls only slightly short of those numbers, coming in second place with Japan in third. A recent waste audit conducted at the University of Western Ontario revealed Tim Horton’s and Starbucks cups account for a mind-blowing seven per cent of building waste by weight on campus. (Some people estimate the national average to be as high as 30%) As a way to correct the problem, EnviroWestern has introduced the Travel Mug Campaign to encourage regular coffee drinkers to think about the impact their behavior has on the environment. In Toronto, city councilor Glenn De Baeremaeker is pursuing the idea of imposing a 25- or 30-cent tax on each disposable coffee cup in order to help reduce Toronto garbage sent to landfill sites, in an effort to force companies like these to find solutions. Locally, the communitea cafĂ© has begun collecting a 50C donation to the Canmore Green Bike program for taking a paper cup. Owner, Marnie Dansereau, conceived of her policy with the intent to get people to be conscious and think about their environmental impact. Not too mention that good coffee like theirs is meant to be experienced and savored in a beautiful porcelain mug, while lounging in a comfy beanbag chair…

So what can we all do? Commit to buying a couple of good quality travel mugs, and keeping them where you use them most. The most important thing though, is to use them. My husband and I made a pledge to not buy coffee in a disposable mug. We take our travel mugs wherever we go. And should we be craving a coffee and not have our mugs? We made a pledge; so we skip the coffee or take a break, and enjoy our coffee in the cafe. Oh yes, it’s been “inconvenient” at times, but the cult of convenience is contributing to the damage we’re doing to our planet. One look into a municipal waste trash bin on a street corner downtown, full to the brim with used coffee cups, will convince you; the best way to solve this problem is to reduce your consumption. And the benefits are twofold; not only will you eliminate waste, but your daily cup(s) of organic, fair trade java will taste even better when they stay hot in your brand new travel mug. It’s good to be green!

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