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Our Coffee Addiction

If you think I’m going to slam coffee in today’s blog, you’re wrong. While I do recommend fair trade, organic shade grown coffee for what may be obvious reasons, today’s topic is actually about the disposable cups we drink our coffee from.

I hope by now everyone is death on styrofoam cups. I’m not even going there. But what I am going to talk about today is the paper cups and lids we often get from Starbucks or Full City or (insert your favorite coffee shop here).

Estimates are that we will use about 23 billion paper coffee cups in 2010. Billion. That will require cutting down 9.4 million trees, 7 trillion BTUs of energy and 5.7 billion gallons of water. This will create 363 million pounds of solid waste. We have trouble processing such large numbers, so here are some comparisons.

The energy used just to manufacture the cups that we use just for our coffee could power 77,000 homes. It’s almost a gallon of water for every human being on the planet. Just from our paper coffee cups. And the FDA has regulations on the amount of recycled paper pulp that is allowed in contact with food and beverages. So the majority of our paper cups are made with a high percentage of virgin paper.

Yet the answer is simple: Carry a reusable mug with you to the coffee shop. Many are already doing this, but if we’re going to use 23 billion paper cups next year, many are not. Most every shop I know will fill your mug with your favorite brew.

Plus, many offer discounts if you use your own mug. So the benefits are twofold: help the environment and save money.

And that’s a win-win all the way around.

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