Producing coffee in a sustainable and ethical way is critical, especially when it’s consumed by over half the adult population in the Canada alone. But do we ever stop to think about the cup from which we sip mother nature’s caffeinated nectar? Not just in terms of sustainability, but the types of mugs and cups that suit our specific coffee-consuming needs and keep our beloved bean juice warm?
There is the all-popular Styrofoam cup used to hold coffee. Cheaply produced at mass scales, the Styrofoam up is a favourite of restaurants and coffee shops. Styrofoam cups do not have many qualities of insulation, and are quick to burn your hand if the coffee has been freshly poured. Styrofoam cups leech toxic contaminants when they biodegrade. They are recyclable, but issues with availability of facilities and good recycling technology for Styrofoam make them difficult to dispose of.
Paper coffee cups are also often used by businesses and coffee shops as a cheap cup for coffee. With poor insulation qualities like the Styrofoam, the paper cups have a wax or plastic lining inside the cup to keep the water from touching the paper cup. Due to this lining, paper cups can take a comparable amount of time to dispose in the environment as well and can be very difficult to recycle, even though the paper itself is not only recyclable but even compostable.
Luckily, there are a multitude of reusable and sustainable coffee cup options for the socially-conscious coffee drinker. Stainless steel, plastic, ceramic, or porcelain mugs, by contrast, are all much better insulators than Styrofoam or paper cups. Further, all these types of mugs are washable and reusable, instead of being single-use items that often show up in landfills, where Styrofoam or plastic cups often end up. With varieties in size, shape, and colour, you can choose an aesthetically-pleasing coffee mug to suit your coffee drinking mood and needs, instead of the standard disposable Styrofoam and paper cups used by restaurants and businesses. Ceramic and porcelain mugs are more suited to drinking coffee at home at leisure, since they are fragile and breakable, and don’t have secure lids. In contrast, stainless steel, plastic, or a combination of the two make excellent eco-friendly and spill-proof travel mugs for the coffee drinker on the go. While more expensive investments, these cups are more customizable to your coffee-drinking needs (at home or on the go) and colour preferences than traditional mass produced, single-use disposable cups.
Enjoy your coffee & your favourite coffee cup!