Did you know that 46% of Payette’s staff owns a re-usable mug, cup or water bottle? If you are one of the proud owners (and actually use your cup), congratulations on being progressive, environmentally conscious and a true fashion trend-setter!
Photos by Rashad Baniabbasi
Re-user or disposer, we are sure you have at some point wondered how much impact your actions are having on the environment, and whether you have made the right liquid container choice. In honor of Environmental Awareness Week, Payette’s Building Science Group has decided to provide you with the right information so that help us reducing the office’s carbon footprint, one coffee at a time.
From cradle to grave, the difference in carbon emissions between using a reusable container and a disposable one depends on three main factors: manufacturing, washing, and disposing/recycling. For example, the environmental impact associated to making, using and disposing a paper cup is about 19 times lower than that making, using and washing a ceramic mug. That means that if you use your mug twice a day, in a week you will have already offset its carbon impact. What you may not know is that the energy use intensity of re-usable containers made of a recyclable material such as plastic, glass, or stainless steel is half of that of a ceramic mug. So if we have convinced you to get a re-usable container for your drinks at the office, remember that all cups are not made equal. Keep in mind that these figures assume that you are washing you reusable cup efficiently (or refill your water bottle several times before washes). If it takes you an entire conversation in the kitchen to wash your mug, your carbon footprint will be looking grimmer than that of your colleague using a paper cup. Now, if you have decided to use a paper cup as a pencil holder, the environment thanks you.
But I’m recycling my paper cup! Isn’t that good?
It turns out that contrary to popular belief, most paper cups are not recyclable. Single use paper cups have an inside coating of polyethylene plastic, which is nor biodegradable nor recyclable. As a matter of fact, while they are accepted in the recycling stream, they are discarded in the paper-processing site. If this weren’t enough, paper cups are regulated to contain no more than 10% recycled paper to maintain their structural properties, increasing the demand of trees to make them.
Have we raised your environmental awareness? We hope so. Needless to say, we encourage you to think twice before you use a paper cup, and to be sure to wash your reusable container quickly, unless you want to begin your day with a strange look over your shoulder.