How to Say No to Disposable Cups With Style
We resolve never to purchase disposable cups, plates or utensils again. We resist buying paper towels, plastic baggies, and plastic wrap. We replace our worn plastic containers with non-toxic glass and stainless steel. It starts becoming easy to live a sustainable lifestyle at home.
But it gets tricky when we leave the house.
The ultimate zero-waste blunder
Recently at an event, I was handed a drink in a disposable plastic cup by a thoughtful acquaintance. I graciously accepted (after all, refusing the drink at this point after it was already poured seemed wasteful in itself). As luck would have it, Lauren Singer, the zero-waste maven behind the blog Trash is for Tossers, looked over and walked up to me (with her reusable cup of course). She didn’t mention the plastic cup in my hand, so I did. We talked about the predicament, and the encounter helped me think through some tips for your next outing.
Tips for refusing disposable cups on the go
Ever get thirsty at an event that only serves water in plastic bottles, without a drinking fountain in sight? Ever kick yourself because the drink you just ordered in a restaurant arrives in a single-use cup (and you’re reminded of the 25 billion coffee cups that end up in landfills every year)? Suddenly going green is not so easy, so keep in mind:
- Try to remember to carry a reusable cup in your bag (obvious, but easy to forget).
- When ordering at a restaurant (especially at a counter) always mention that you’d like your drink in a reusable cup just in case.
- If you’re at an event in someone’s home, seek out a reusable alternative if throw-away cups are the only options set out.
- Remember to be polite (no shaming) and helpful (if you use a kitchen cup, wash and return it to the cabinet). Your thoughtful intentions to lessen your environmental footprint won’t go unnoticed, especially if you are mindful about how you handle it.
- If disposable cups are your only option, ask yourself if you really need a drink, and remember that drinking fountains are a good standby.
But if you’re caught with the unavoidable single-use cup in your hand, like I was, Lauren’s advice was to enjoy the drink, be sure to reuse the cup at the event, and of course, recycle it.