Staff Opinion: Use fewer to-go cups

Reduce waste and use reuseable cups

By Haley Grant | November 29, 2017 1:22pm

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Haley Grant is a reporter for The Beacon. 

by Brennan Robinson / The Beacon

We use too many to-go cups. Campus trash cans are overflowing with empty paper and plastic cups. It’s wasteful, but also completely avoidable. More students on campus should invest in reusable tumblers to help cut back on unnecessary waste. 

The thing about climate change is it's a collective effort, but ultimately, individuals are responsible through our day-to-day activities. We don’t always consider how the little things — international shipping, drives in a car, an innocent paper cup — cause a negative impact on the environment.

I used to not care about the paper cup. I tossed it in the trash and didn’t think twice. But then I took some environmental science classes here at UP. I learned more about my impact in scientific detail. These classes were integral to shaping my understanding of how my actions cause climate change. It was difficult at first, acknowledging that I was a part of the problem, but I came to understand that I was a relatively large contributor to pollution, being a middle-class American.  

I’m not perfect, though. Sometimes I leave my reusable tumbler at home, but pick up a drink on campus anyway. Sometimes I go to the Starbucks drive-thru in the morning (in a car, no less!), and I get a paper or plastic cup every once in a while, but I think it’s important to be conscientious of how much we’re using. I believe the more you think about your impact, the more likely you’re going to change something about your lifestyle. Knowing what I know now, I can’t use a paper cup without feeling guilty.  

Besides, reusable containers can be decorated with fun patterns, or come with added features that a paper cup could never offer, like sealable lids and temperature control. Additionally, you can usually get a small discount for using your own cup. 

If you don’t want to spend money on a brand new tumbler, you could be like all the hip kids and bring a literal mug or mason jar to class. There are some obvious setbacks, such as the higher probability of spilling the drink or breaking the mug. These setbacks, however, are outweighed by several positives: first, it’s a trustworthy mug you can count on. Second, mugs are way cuter than a boring, coffee-stained paper cup, and they usually have a cute design or a funny comic. Thirdly, using a mug helps reduce your carbon footprint by using one fewer paper cup.  

It’s easier to do away with the paper or plastic cup, and be assured you’ll never see it again, than to face the uncomfortable reality of climate change. Switching from paper cups to mugs is a small difference, but think of all the paper cups you pick up in a week, a month, a whole school year. You could cut out all those pounds of paper and plastic by using a reusable tumbler or simple coffee mug.

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