The Silent Contaminate:
Our Disposable Coffee Drinking Habit

Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day making us the leading consumers of coffee worldwide. The global coffee industry continues to grow year over year at a CAGR of 5.5%. The beverage has evolved over time into an experience rather than to fulfill a need. Otherwise, we would be brewing our own cup at home for a fraction of the price. This experience that attracts us comes with a price to our health and our environment. If the impact to the environment doesn’t motivate you maybe the impact to your health will.

Did you know that single use coffee cups are lined with polyethylene (plastic #1) which prevents the paper cup from becoming soggy? Polyethylene or PET is considered a safe plastic and does not contain BPA, but in the presence of heat it can leach antimony, a toxic metalloid, into food and beverages. Studies show water bottles exposed to heat and over periods of time leach higher levels of the toxin.

Coffee cup lids are made of polystyrene (plastic #6) which is known to leach styrene, a chemical on the US list of carcinogens, which is toxic to the brain and nervous system.

Small Footprint Family provides a great resource on plastic types and their effects:

A better alternative to single use coffee cups and water bottles are reusable glass or stainless steel containers.

See a list of coffee shops and the value assigned for bringing a reusable cup:

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf – $0.20
Dunkin Donuts – $0
Peet’s Coffee – $0.10
Starbucks – $0.10
WholeFoods – $0.25

Check out this powerful Ted Talk with artist Chris Jordan. He uses statistics like coffee cups to create impactful artwork as a catalyst to change. I saw this video 10 years ago and it still resonates with me to this day:

I will leave you with this question: How do we change as a culture and as an individual to take responsibility for the piece of the solution that we are responsible for?

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