Are Travel Mugs Good for the Environment
Thanks to awareness campaigns by various environmentalists and green organizations, more people are becoming aware of the adverse effects of disposables and single-use plastics on our environment. With climate change in everyone’s mind, eco-friendly alternatives like coffee mugs have seen a rise in demand and popularity in recent years. Reducing the use of plastic bottles is one way for us to conserve our environment and cut down our carbon footprint.
Recent estimates show that around 200 million cups are being thrown in Ireland each year and only a measly 1% of these cups are recycled. Most of the disposable cups end up piling in landfills and floating in bodies of water. While disposable cups are made from paper, they are lined or coated with a plastic material called polyethene which makes them waterproof. This same material is also the reason why disposable cups are not biodegradable. It takes hundreds, if not thousands of years before a paper cup breaks down. And when it breaks down into pieces, it becomes microplastic. Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that could be ingested by animals. If mistaken for food, these small plastics could choke and even kill animals.
Burning plastics and municipal wastes is another disposable technique. Many incinerators convert the heat produced by burning plastic into energy. Unfortunately, fumes are also produced when plastic is burned which could add toxic emissions into our atmosphere.
By 2021, the Irish government will introduce a ‘latte levy’ to encourage its citizens to use reusable coffee cups and travel mugs instead of styrofoam cups and disposables. Many coffee shops and cafés have already begun offering discounts to patrons to incentivise them to bring their own coffee cup. Making the switch to travel mugs from disposables would not only help you reduce your plastic waste, but also brings you long-term savings. The manufacturing of disposable cups has its own set of environmental ramifications. Around 20 million trees are felled to obtain virgin pulp for mass-produce single-use cups. Cutting down trees causes the destruction of natural habitats of animals and is widely considered unsustainable. Also during the manufacturing process, CO2 emissions are released into the atmosphere contributing to greenhouse gases. Furthermore, it takes years to grow trees and the cups that came from them only last as long as their contents.
By simply using reusable travel mugs instead of disposable for our everyday dose of coffee is an effective way of reducing our plastic waste. If less waste is produced, less toxic chemicals are released into our land, bodies of water and atmosphere. There’s also the problem of diminishing landfill space. Our continued use of single-use plastics and then dumping them in landfills is not sustainable at all.
Conversely, travel mugs especially the ones that are made from food-grade stainless steel are as sustainable as we could get. Stainless steel is a widely used material and while its fabrication requires a lot of energy, energy is saved in the long term because anything that is made from stainless steel is durable. With proper care, your stainless steel travel mug could last you for years.
Another benefit of using reusable travel mugs is that it does not contain any chemicals like BPA that could leach into your favourite beverage. BPA also known as bisphenol-A is a hormone-disruptor linked to a wide range of serious health issues like hypertension and is widely considered as carcinogenic.
In conclusion, travel mugs are eco-friendly. Using them helps us change our habits and for the better. We’ve been dependent on using plastics for so long that most of us can’t live without them. Making the conscious decision to switch to greener products can help save our dying planet because after all, there’s no planet B.
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