Yeah, but it’s recyclable…

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Source:  Tim Silverwood

After procrastinating for a while, though every winter I tell myself I won’t, I finally made the time to change my tires over.  Luckily, I seemed to be the last one in my town to do so, as there was only one car in the parking lot, leading me to think they were closed!  I don’t drive a lot, and fortunately live within easy walking distance to the school I work at, which is probably why I’ve been putting it off…

To my surprise, the dude at Kal-Tire told me it was going to take less than an hour, which was unexpected; he told me to go enjoy a cup of coffee and check back in 45 minutes.  Immediately I regretted not taking any marking with me, or at least a book.  I decided I’d walk to the local coffee shop a little further away…

“A little further away” is approximately 500 m.  I walked down the street, across the highway, down another street, across an avenue, and over a parking lot to get to my warm destination, Hot Shots, where java awaited me (in a porcelain mug, of course).

It was a gloomy day; the rain clouds sat low at the base of the mountains, drizzle rain fell on my hooded head, and the snow turned to slush on the sidewalks.  Keeping my eyes up as I walked, I noticed a to-go coffee cup on a patch of grass; a green coloured, holiday-themed, Tim Horton’s to-go coffee cup.

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A few steps further I noticed another to-go coffee cup; a bright orange 7-11 to-go cup.  Now I really started to look around, left to right, on both sides of the sidewalk.

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Again, a little further I saw tall shrubs that lined the sidewalk, and found another cup, sitting among the bare branches, dull in colour; it’d probably been there a while.

After my short trek I found thirteen discarded, one-time-used, to-go coffee cups, which brought me to the question: how long is the lifecycle of a to-go coffee cup?

Well, probably the amount of time it takes you to drink it.  There were several chain coffee shops close by; my assumption was that someone purchased it, walked down the street with it, and simply tossed it aside when they were finished.

This brought me to another thought.  I bring my travel mug with me if I’m out and haven’t had my morning coffee; I make the assumption that I will want it, so I prepare for that, because I know my habits.  The mug comes with me on road trips, and on short outings with friends if I know we will stop for coffee.  Several people have said to me, “Well, aren’t they recyclable?  Can’t you just recycle them?

But how many people actually do?

How many people take the time to hold on to their to-go cup after they have purchased it to bring it home or to work to recycle it?  I’d say that number is minimal.  Also, most cups with their plastic linings cannot be recycled, and you can’t tell me that people are going to take the time to remove the flimsy plastic liner to recycle the paper cup!  The lid is also plastic, and though recyclable, it is left to break apart into tiny pieces that will eventually be gobbled up by creatures who think it’s food, or head to our water systems.  Why?  Because we live in a society that revolves around convenience, and taking a plastic lid home to recycle from a quick to-go cup, is simply inconvenient.

I also didn’t have a bag with me to collect these.  Typically if I’m hiking or walking with friends, I always keep a plastic bag for the times I see cans or other recyclable items.  However, that’s one person; and if for that one person, thirteen others throw their to-go cups in the bush…well… that just leaves a sad feeling in my heart.

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8 thoughts on “Yeah, but it’s recyclable…

  1. It’s very sad, I see it all the time too but never seem to have a bag with me, when I can actually pick stuff up, I almost need to dedicated a day to going around and picking things up

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  2. This makes me so sad too and actually quite angry. We are driving back to the coast from Emerald today (a town in central Queensland, Australia) and I am appalled by the rubbish on the side of the road. When did it become okay to just chuck rubbish out the car window? And we have such a beautiful country.
    I just said to my husband that this anger I feel needs to be channelled into something that promotes change in the disposable society that we live. It’s one thing to drink coffee from a single use cup (and I admit I am guilty of this because it is not a daily treat so I am not often organised enough to carry a reusable cup but I hope with time, carrying a reusable cup with me will become a habit) but it’s quite another to just throw it on the ground. Pure laziness. Let’s hope that governments and overall attitudes will quickly change before our natural world is ruined.

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  3. Wow! Crazy how many cups were just strewn about–unacceptable!
    In my town, we cannot recycle these types of to-go coffee cups because they are coated with wax. I want to find out more about the process of breaking them down to understand why.

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    • Yes, here too, it’s annoying because most people choose the “convenient” option of a to-go cup; not that keeping a travel mug in your vehicle for coffee outings is inconvenient – you just have to make it a habit :). Thanks for reading!

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  4. Sad! I live near a car park and I see people all day heading to their cars to head home at the end of the day with their stupid to go cups. As if they couldn’t wait til they got home to enjoy a cup at home! People are so entitled and feel like they should be able to pay for ‘convenience’ and instant gratification no matter what the environmental cost. Grrr…The people I work with get coffee in to go cups all the time and if I had a euro for every time I’ve heard ‘they’re paper, they’re recyclable!’ from them, well let’s just say, I’d have a lot of euros!!

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