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Styrofoam Cups Vs. Paper Cups at a Coffee Shop: Learn Something New...

Business  (tags: GoodNews, coffee, green business )

- 4055 days ago -
I contacted a local coffee shop when I found out that they were using styrofoam cups. Little did I know, I was embarking on a journey chock full o' green knowledge


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Chris Nielsen (75)
Wednesday February 13, 2008, 9:22 am
Styrofoam is made from a petrochemical. The ingredients are highly toxic and can only be degraded by noxious bacteria that are laboratory grown. Paper products are just as bad, as it takes mote energy to produce and removes natural carbon syncs from our environment. Use reusable drink containers that are washable. That's what they're made for.

Joe P (10)
Wednesday February 13, 2008, 9:44 am
Yeah, that's the same conclusion I ended up coming to. However, tons o' people seem to like to get disposable cups, so may as well find the best one for them to get.

Besides, basically nothing in a landfill really biodegrades, whether it's styrofoam or paper. I myself use the same mug every time, though.

B T (2)
Thursday February 14, 2008, 2:43 am
Here in Italy you just don't see either paper or styrofoam cups. People go and stand at the nearest bar, where they might chat with a neighbor as they have their coffe. I shudder to think what would happen to the barista who would serve the daily dose in anything but a thick ceramic cup... You also see people walking in the streets with trays with cups of coffe, destined for a nearby office, or, if the office is further away, miniature thermoses (1 cup/thermos)! As a foreigner I found this fascinating, and now I'm used to and love this quite unique brand of coffee culture.

Joe P (10)
Thursday February 14, 2008, 5:41 am
That's true, I remember that about Italy. In Uruguay people would walk around with tea and a thermos of hot water. If only there was some way to get Americans to not WANT to use a disposable cup...

Mary J (29)
Thursday February 14, 2008, 12:46 pm
It's the same problem as getting reusable grocery bags instead of paper or plastic. Here's an article from the New York Times of how Ireland made it happen: "Motivated by a Tax, Irish Spurn Plastic Bags"
Now that's a tax I can live with!!

Joe P (10)
Thursday February 14, 2008, 1:20 pm
Yeah, I was in Amsterdam a while back, and you had to buy plastic bags in the grocery store if you wanted to use them. I'd be fine having to pay for plastic bags; money is a great motivator to change people's behavior. Even without the tax, I use cloth bags now:

Charlie L (29)
Wednesday April 29, 2009, 10:29 pm
If I want a cup of coffee I always try to find a place that uses ceramic mugs. Styrofoam may or may not be more eco-friendly than paper. But what I do know is that it makes the coffee taste awful, at least to me.

Wendy Stevens (4)
Wednesday December 16, 2009, 5:50 am
I have started a group on Facebook
"Tell Dunkin' Donuts to Stop Using Styrofoam!"
Please join

What a great thread. Neither paper nor styrofoam will suffice, a ceramic mug is the answer. I'm fascinated to read about other countries cultures. America goes too fast, we are forced to do this as our economy dictates...

Tony M. (0)
Sunday October 21, 2012, 8:22 pm
Outright banning of something as ubiquitous as styrofoam cups is not really doing our best to find a solution. I mean clearly, it's 3-4 years after this story has been posted and not much has changed. Why don't we work on educating people on recycling foam cups? They're better than paper cups and generally less harmful than alternatives. At least, that is what I've seen from

Dan Weisenbach (0)
Monday March 11, 2013, 1:48 pm
Please don’t call it Styrofoam™
Styrofoam™ is a registered trademark of The Dow Chemical Company for extruded polystyrene foam used as building insulation. There is no such thing as a “styrofoam cup” and, Styrofoam™ has never been used as a foodservice product.
You can call it "foam plastic" or EPS - expanded polystyrene. My company, Weisenbach Recycled Products, makes pens (writing instruments) and picture frames from post-consumer recycled EPS processed from foam cups, foam plates, foam lunch trays and take-out containers, as well as polystyrene foam packaging materials. The recycling of EPS is becoming much more common across the United States. So if you don't have your own reusable mug, you don't need to feel guilty about using a foam coffee cup.
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