Getting Rid of Plastic Straws? Cool. Now Get Rid of Plastic Cups

A Deaditor returns to advocate for reusable cups

by Claire Nunez

Deaditor-in-Chief

As of late, there has been a lot of push for the complete deletion of plastic straws from our lives. While I do support any kind of plastic reduction, I cannot entirely get behind the plastic straw upheaval because it alienates those who need plastic straws and to an extent, claims that we only need to get rid of straws.
This is absolutely not true.
We need to reduce all plastic use. One great place to start is with your Dunkin or Starbucks order. Both chains offer discounts for bringing your own mug or reusable cup— which is a great benefit considering that drinks can sometimes cost upwards of four dollars depending on the size. A discount is nice but reducing your carbon footprint is better.
Say you purchase a grande, Iced Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks three days this week. Those delicious coffees will cost you $13.35 (not including tax) and you will use nine pieces of plastic. Straws cannot be recycled at recycling all plants and there is no guarantee your cup will be recycled any time soon. You could avoid using all of this plastic with a, you guessed it, reusable cup.
I purchased a reusable cold cup at Starbucks for $9.95 and it is technically considered a grande size but is just short of a venti. So really, I am saving more than just ten cents for every drink. To us college kids, $9.95 may seem steep. It really isn’t. It is like, two drinks that you are skipping. Starbucks and Dunkin are expensive enough habits and you will save money in the long run with one of these reusable cups.
Don’t just stop with your coffee habit. Try and ditch plastic in every aspect of your life. I can confirm, this is difficult. I am trying to get rid of all unnecessary plastics in my day-to-day routine and it is not easy, but I am trying to be more conscious of my place in this world. We use plastics to a scary extent. Our foods are often wrapped in single-use plastic bags. Prepackaged soft drinks typically come in plastic bottles. Grocery bags. Coffee cups. Plastic utensils. Amazon packaging. A majority of the materials used in these products are plastic-derived, and some of them are neither recyclable nor reusable.
These materials will often be dumped somewhere causing habitat loss, polluted water, and other detrimental effects to animals and humans. So many of our nation’s “recycled” plastics, metals, and papers would end up in China, but scrap buyers no longer want our garbage…because we produce too much. It is basic economics. We have essentially saturated the scrap plastic market and there is no need for these buyers to take it since they have years’ worth of plastics to process. The U.S. has to process the plastics or find other, more expensive ways to get rid of our waste.
While this may not be a “you” problem, you can help tackle the mountains of plastics overseas with simple changes to your day-to-day routine. Start with a reusable plastic cup. Put reminders in your phone to actually take your reusable bags to the grocery store. Don’t buy foods wrapped in excessive plastic. Reuse materials where you can. You can make a difference with these changes. Encourage your friends and roommates to make these changes too. Our generation is far more conscious of our environmental and social impacts therefore remind yourself and others to make an effort because every piece of plastic matters.

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