Paper products aren’t great either – Reuse not recycle

If you thought you were doing the planet a huge favor by using paper products “instead of styrofoam and plastic”. You are in for a rude shock. The first point being that these cups are single use and are a major strain on natural resources. Don’t get fooled by these promotions by all the cafes and restaurants around the world.

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They are not as green as they are made to look. Compared to washing used dishes, disposables (paper, plastic or styrofoam) are definitely major resource guzzlers. If you thought you could recycle these cups, then let me burst your bubble, the thin film of polythene used to make these paper cup hold liquids, makes it a difficult item to recycle. Few brands also sell wax coated paper cups. This however doesn’t make it any different when it comes to recycling. Commercial recycling cannot remove the glue in paper cups and plastic and wax covering on these cups only aggravates the problem.

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I have nothing against coffee lovers nor do I have anything against these big brands. All I am saying is, think about all the disposable cups you could be throwing after just one round of refreshement. I am not asking you to avoid drinking your daily cuppa. All it just needs is a few minutes and a small effort to go green with your routines. There have been ads about bio-degradable paper cups by a certain brand but it is surely not great when compared to our good old metal/ceramic containers.

This is how a garbage bin outside any Starbucks looks. It was shocking to see the number of cups being wasted to measure and pour portions to another (disposable) cup for the customer. Not to mention the stirrers, plastic lids and cardboard flaps (to protect you from hot liquids). It is surely painful to see dumps like these and not think about it….

imagesource: sustainabilityfrinq.wordpress

We can avoid this, it is cool to use your own coffee cup. I do (tea in my case) and get compliments for being responsible. Ceramic mugs are a great way to eliminate coffee cups (plastic or otherwise) while at work. When you are on the go, choose travel mugs (steel all over or with earth friendly silicone parts).

Don’t you think it is more classy to carry your own travel mug to a cafe rather than beg them to give their stinky disposable ones? You too can save loads of paper/plastic/styrofoam cups from being manufactured, shipped, bought, stocked and then going to the landfill. Lesser garbage means lesser trips by the garbage truck and one less “garbage bag” for the dump. A little thought and a little effort go a long way. I found these cool ceramic travel mugs with silicone lids

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 Another funky one for you to choose from

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You could buy a steel thermos flask to hold an extra cup for your partner too! 

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Go greener, and let the planet survive a few more years. Come to think of it, we are not saving the planet, we are saving ourselves and million other earthlings in the process. I don’t drink coffee, so Chai anyone 🙂

8 thoughts on “Paper products aren’t great either – Reuse not recycle

  1. Ok, here I am, back from last night, as promised. Great article,the one above. Will pass on your blog link to some of my like minded friends here in India.

    Sudha (incidentally , my Software Engineer daughter is also named Sudha–so I feel some sort of kinship-connection!)–Since you are from South India,I'm guessing, but settled in the US–you may be aware of the good old South style disposable cups–donnais made of leaves–both dry green variety and the dried brown leaf type, plus of course our leaf plates–whether Banana leaf or the type of leaf plate made up of many leaves.

    I have just done a google search by typing Donnais and leaf plates of Southern India–and found some good links. Here is one such–

    My point is–if developing countries like India can use these bio-degradable leaf cups, what stops the US from using similar stuff?

    I'm guessing that the disposables industry is well entrenched there. Still,my question–are leaf cups and plates EVER used in the US?

    See you around.



  2. Hi LS
    I am so glad you came back as promised..:)…and def means a lot to me…I too feel the connection more so after you told me that ur daughter is Sudha too!! 🙂

    I came here to study and have been hunting for work as of now…I started my crusade as a teenager (almost 15 years ago)…In the last few years I lived here, I was very disappointed and driven to make a difference. Not just people here, immigrant indian population lacks the basic sense to manage resources intelligently. My fellow indian counterparts make fun when i carry my bags to stores.

    That apart, this country turned into a typical throwaway culture in the late 60's and the 70's. And as per my understanding, India is at the exact same state/phase right now. There are green groups etc to create awareness here..but what scares me is the direction our developing nation is heading to. My own siblings dont care about the coffe cups (paper/plastic) they throw after their purchase from Cafe coffee day.

    Coming to the question as to wy people here dont use – Basic lack of awareness and excessive promotion of processing and paper based products industries. Basic lack of forethought and long term planning.

    for that matter, my grandfather's tarpanam in India, the vadiyaar asks for plastic cups…so I am rather surprised that there are people still using them….pl do stop by more often…every input from readers like urself means a lot!!



  3. Hi Didi, I got in to this particular blog after I saw a portion of your comment stating Lalitha's daughter Sudha. That pulled me in here and I read through this post. In my company, I have heard some people getting involved in discussions like – if we stop using paper cups, we will start wasting water in washing ceramic cups. Back in orissa, we too used to have extensive use of donnais ( called donna in oriya) in villages. But now even villagers have migrated to plastic/paper cups and glasses. There are families in villages whose primary skill is making donnas and their generations have survived through this profession. Now with the extensive use of paper and plastic cups, they are out of job and in severe poverty. These people are not trained in any other profession and cannot survive now because their products are not used/rarely used.


  4. hi sunayana
    tell ur learned friends that water,also needs to be used sensibly…and washing dishes compared to throwing disposable ones is a lot less harming on the planet….let those intellectuals choose between letting a piece of plstic junk floating in the sea or in a landfill nearby…versus water…which goes back into the earth and that too needs to be used sensibly…not that u keep the water running in the name of washing ur dishes…utter nonsense…let common sense prevail…basically those who argue otherwise…actually reflect the lack of it…being a SW professional doenst make them automatically sensible..right


  5. for that matter even excessive use of biodegradable products is a direct impact on the planet…just because donnaiz are biodegradable…doenst mean we will stretch on that resource as well…humans tend to get excessive with everything and will end up raping the planet int he end anyway…so shifting to biodegradable choices and that to being very conscious about ur use and consumption patterns is the key to start our crusade…mind u its just the beginning…and as such we have a long way to go


  6. hi didi, yes I totally agree. Its not any formula that needs to be applied while choosing paper/plastic/water/biodegradable resources. Its about common sense, judicious use of any resource be it natural or manufactured and the ability to understand the central idea behind the go green concept. If go green is misunderstood as dont use plastic but use trees, branches, leaves etc extensively then the whole concept and the initiative crashes. My dad says, take care of everything that you use and they will take care of you in return. This statement seems to apply to anything and everything. – Sunayana


  7. Great post, Sudha. Have to appreciate your persistent efforts 🙂
    You have even put up pictures of pretty flasks, ceramic cups that are defntly better looking are healthier for the planet than the trash of plastic coated paper cups you have shown. Hope the pictures of personal cups use campaign win favor from many. BTW, I have my own coffee/tea mug at office and also use a separate cermic bowl for flakes and milk, leave them both inmy office drawer after use/carefully washing them .


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