Reduce waste by using a reusable mug at home, in the office and on the go, instead of opting for single-use containers for coffee and tea.
If you buy your daily cup of coffee in a disposable container, you are generating about 22.75 pounds of waste per year. (You're also wasting money; personal finance experts recommend making it at home to save $358 annually.) Across the country, 25 billion polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam) cups are thrown away every year, according to the EPA. That's troubling, because polystyrene takes hundreds of years to break down, and is made of nonrenewable petroleum.
Cups made of paper products are easier on the environment, but they are made of trees and can result in destructive deforestation. Even recycled paper cups require considerable energy to produce and distribute.
It's wise to use ceramic or glass containers for your hot beverages, because plastics can leach out small amounts of potentially harmful chemicals over time, like pthalates and bisphenol A. If the risk of breakage is high, and for on-the-go uses, consider stainless steel.
As an added incentive, remember that many coffee shops and university food services offer discounts for those who bring in their own reusable containers. Starbucks, for example, offers a 10-cent discount to those with their own mugs.
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