Challenge #42: Use travel mugs

Don’t use paper/styrofoam cups, have your own travel mug.

Use reusable coffee mugs

“The first law of ecology is that everything is related to everything else.”

-Barry Commoner

Hey, folks!

Wast majority of people drink either coffee or tea in the morning and during the lunch break. And many of those pick up their hot beverages in coffee shops, where they normally use paper or styrofoam to-go cups.

How to complete this week’s challenge?

If you are one of those people, then your task this week is to change your habit by replacing all those single-use to-go mugs with your own personal traveling mug.

Nothing complicated, right? All you have to do is to ask the personnel in the coffee shop to pour your coffee, cappuccino, tea, or cocoa (or whatever you like to drink) into your own travel mug instead of using their single-use to-go mug. That’s it.

If you don’t own a travel mug yet, here is our suggestion: Stainless Steel Insulated Coffee Mug.

Why are single-use cups/mugs a problem?

If we take a look at the average paper cup it is made out of a paper/styrofoam cup and a plastic cover. Sadly most of those end up in a landfill.

There have been many people claiming that styrofoam cups are the problematic ones while paper ones are ok. There’ve been even some cities where they’ve actually banned the use of styrofoam cups and replaced them with paper ones.

So let’s get that clear, none of those are good. They both end up in the landfill. You’d think paper ones at least decompose faster, right. Think again. Most of the paper cups used are not entirely made out of paper. They have a thin plastic layer inside. As such single-use cups made out of both materials are not being recycled. Moreover, they both come with a plastic cover, which is an additional problem.

use traveling mug

If we also consider the production processes for both types of cups, it actually turns out that styrofoam ones are the lesser evil. Paper and paper product production is extremely bad for the environment. You can read more on that in two of our future posts/challenges: Challenge #27: Print on both sides and Challenge #35: Use fewer paper products.

But like we said before, both are not OK. It is simply way better for the environment to use your own traveling mug. Moreover, it has been proven by many different studies that plastic containers can leave traces of chemicals into the food/drink, which can harm your health. Latter won’t happen with a stainless steel insulated coffee mug.

To make it easier for you to realize how big of a problem this topic actually is, we prepared some shocking and concerning fact regarding paper cups.

“The earth is what we all have in common.”

-Wendell Berry

Paper cups facts
  • The average office worker uses about 500 disposable cups yearly.
  • There are over 20 billion styrofoam coffee cups and over 58 billion paper ones thrown away each year in the US alone.
  • If you buy just one cup of coffee or tea in a disposable cup each day, you end up producing about 23 lbs of waste a year.
  • On average, Americans, as the leading coffee consumers in the world, consume about 400 million cups of coffee per day which is a total of 146 billion cups of coffee each year.
  • Styrofoam cannot be completely recycled, as such, it will take over 500 years for it to decompose.
  • To produce a single paper cup they produce 0.24 lbs of CO2 emissions.
  • One person can save over 24 trees in 40 years by using a reusable traveling mug.
  • There are around 20 million trees cut down each year just to produce paper cups.
  • If we were to use the energy that is used to produce and dispose of paper cups, we could power 53,000 homes.
  • To produce enough paper cups just for one year demand, 12 billion gallons of water are used.

If you weren’t convinced before, those facts must have moved you. We know we were shocked when we first ran into them. Do the right thing and say no to disposable cups.

Reminder: Bottled water?

Since we all usually drink some water together with our hot drink, we thought it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to remind you about how big of a problem bottled water is. Do the best you can to have it in your reusable personal bottle as well.

Don't buy bottled water

Take-home points:

Have a nice week and enjoy your morning coffee from your reusable mug 😉


Good Earthlings


3 thoughts on “Challenge #42: Use travel mugs

  1. I loved your post- it helps to see the total damage that “oh, it’s just one” to-go cup can be. 23lbs a year?! That’s insane. I also love the title of your website, very original and speaks to your focus. We all need the reusable travel mug, and there’s no time for excuses- the planet needs help!

    • Penelope, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Don’t be a stranger.

      Love, GE

  2. Thank you for sharing this information with us. It is very useful and important information for those who are doing this work for the first time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.