Hi everyone, my name is Teddi and I am the new Team Green Marketing Intern! As I said in my bio, I’m a big fan of drinking tea and adventuring with friends. Recently, I have been traveling around Rochester more and stopping in nearby café’s. I noticed that many local café’s serve their hot drinks in reusable mugs, which got me thinking about how most coffee shops only offer to-go cups, thus how wasteful the coffeehouse industry must be.
Every day, the average American consumes 3.1 cups of coffee. Given that more than half of Americans over the age of 18 consume coffee daily, that adds up to 400 million cups of coffee a day and about 146 billion cups of coffee a year. As a result, more than 20 million trees will be cut down annually, solely for the purpose of making coffee cups. That is a lot of trees being sacrificed, just for your morning joe. And even if you’re only purchasing one cup a day, you’ll still be producing 23 lbs of waste by the end of a year. So how can we avoid this process, and why has more not been done already?
To some extent, the problem is not that we are ignoring the issue at hand, but that we as individuals have not expressed enough interest in a solution. The coffee industry has been looking into what improvements could be made; they are working on redesigning coffee cups (with some success), they considered switching to a solely mug system (a costly and unpopular idea), and they have, in some shops, made your drink cheaper if you bring your own mug to use. However, since carrying around one’s own mug or tumbler is both inconvenient and uncommon, very few of us are committed to the doing so. And while there have been many innovative reusable cup creations to address the problems people have with carrying containers around with them, the trend has still yet to catch on.
So what will it take for consumers to think actively about the decisions they make every time they wait in line for a cup of coffee? Who knows, perhaps we are too committed to coffee as a status symbol to give up the paper cup. Maybe we simply don’t realize how huge the impact of purchasing and reusing a mug at a coffee shop can be. Or we don’t know how unhealthy paper coffee cups can be for us too, not just the environment. Whatever the reason might be, I urge you to do some research and learn what changes you can make in favor of being more green. You might find that it’s easier to do than you think!
Written by Teddi Shapiro, Class of 2019