by Alex Duryera ’18
Students, faculty, and staff populate the lines of Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks during all hours of the day. But have you ever stopped to wonder where the cup you toss out goes? Ever think about how many plastic, paper, and Styrofoam cups you throw away every week? Every month? Every year?
Let’s consider a day in the life of your disposable Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks cup.
First the straw, lid, and plastic or paper cup are pulled out of plastic wrapping that is then thrown in the trash. Then your cup is filled with the coffee or tea that will keep you peppy and caffeinated throughout the day.
Once you finish your beverage, you contemplate where to dispose of it. Straws and paper cups can always be thrown in the trash, while plastic cups and their lids can always be recycled. If you neglected to consider the environmental impacts of Styrofoam, you might have asked for a “hot cup” instead of coming down to Harkins LL18 for a free reusable coffee cup koozie!
This is a solution to having a cold hand in the winter when drinking iced coffee and to those horrible water rings that show up on your desk. With the advanced foam technology, the koozie actually absorbs the condensation and will not leave a ring on your desk.And your hand will be the perfect temperature. What more could you want?
If you are a busy bee and do not have time to stop by our office, do not worry! Thursdays around noon by the Dunkin’ Donuts on campus, the Office of Environmental Health & Safety will be handing out free koozies!
Think about it—would you rather have a cool reusable PC koozie that helps reduce waste sent to the landfill and represents your school? Or would you rather send a Styrofoam cup to the landfill every time you drink a coffee just so your hand does not get wet? By the way, that Styrofoam cup takes at least 500 years to decompose and is not yet recyclable in Rhode Island. The choice is up to you!
Styrofoam is made with benzene and polystyrene, both known to cause cancer in humans. The workers responsible for creating these Styrofoam cups are exposed to these harmful chemicals on a daily basis. Benzene and polystyrene have been linked to central and nervous system mutations, Parkinson’s disease, and leukemia.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Styrofoam is the fifth largest source of hazardous waste in the country. Styrofoam is also the dominant type of urban litter and the main pollutant in oceans, bays, and other bodies of water around the U.S.
You can still do even more to reduce your environmental footprint! Dunkin’ and Starbucks will fill up your reusable coffee cup or tumbler from home, as long as it has a lid on it. Starbucks will even give you your beverage for the price of a refill, so you save money by being environmentally conscious.
Remember to bring your reusable coffee cup or tumbler with a lid next time you go to Starbucks or Dunkin’! Be one less. Choose to reuse. Say no to Styrofoam.