Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Monthly Micro-Actions: No Excuse for Single-Use

Written by: Laska Pare

 According to Zero Waste Canada, coffee is the most common beverage after water for adults.[1] Whether you drink coffee, tea or a Triple-Venti-Half Sweet-Caramel Macchiato, most of it is served in single-use paper cups. We all want quality and crave convenience. But what about saving money, spending less and reducing landfill waste?

Did you know:
  • Disposable paper cups contain 5% polyurethane plastic, making composting and recycling of disposable cups extremely tricky
  • 70% of the world’s paper comes from diminishing forests, not from plantations or recycling
  • Very little recycled paper is used to make disposable cups due to health risk concerns
** “Did you know FACTS provided by ecoffee cup
A huge problem with “to go” is where the coffee cup is travelling and what we do with it when we no longer want it. Recycling across BC is dynamic and site specific, and this can lead to confusion and frustration when you're trying to do the right thing. The average number of steps someone will carry garbage is twelve paces[2]. As much as everyone would like to be an environmental steward, many consumers are unwilling to carry the cup until they find a recycling, composting or disposal options, and providing these options on city streets, in malls, at beaches, and in parks has a cost.
While most communities have “to go” options for take-out, not every community has the options to deal with the discards. But as consumers, it is the decisions we make that will make a difference.

Micro-Actions For September

No. 1: Support local businesses who offer green alternatives. Some local businesses in Greater Victoria offer low-impact, compostable cups.

No. 2: Many municipalities DO accept paper cups in the curbside recycling collection program as containers (not as paper). But it’s rare the discarded cup travels back to the consumer’s home to be placed in the recycling.

No. 3: Get a reusable mug! If we really want to avoid creating waste, we have to make conscious changes in our behaviours. Using a reusable mug is a great start and a micro way you can make a difference. In this video, which aired on Shaw TV earlier this year, I explore the single-use cup issue in Greater Victoria and talk about how you can contribute to a sustainable future.

As consumers, it is us who need to lead the way to reducing and reusing. Now realizing the impact of disposable cups we have to be the ones to create change.

[1] http://zerowastecanada.ca/the-brewing-problem-of-the-to-go-coffee-cup/
[2] http://zerowastecanada.ca/the-brewing-problem-of-the-to-go-coffee-cup/