Many drink accessories are made of plastic or paper and can only be used once. We create giant amounts of waste every year by using them. Every year U.S. Americans use and throw away about 182 billion 5 hundred million plastic straws, 25 billion disposable coffee cups, at least 30 billion coffee capsules and pods, and many billions of tea bags.
With only 4 little swaps when it comes to drinks, you can do your part to reduce your waste signifantly.
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Table of Contents
Stop using: Plastic straws
Why are they bad? Plastic straws are not biodegradable, i.e. after you have used them (usually just once), they go to landfill. While they disintegrate within about 200 years, they also exude harmful chemicals. Neither are plastic straws usually recycled because they are made of polypropylene (plastic number 5 or PP plastic). You might have heard already that, unfortunately, many plastic straws end up in the sea. There it collects in plastic islands or, even worse, is eaten by animals. Some animals starve to death, other suffocate. Moreover, some animals get entangled in the straws and slowly die.
Start using instead: Reusable straws made of metal, glass or bamboo. Put one in your bag for when you have a drink in a bar, cafe or restaurant. Wash them after every use. Usually you can put them in the dishwasher.
Good to know: Many restaurants have started to hand out paper straws. Those are not actually better than plastic straws. While paper straws might not hurt animals as badly, they require a high amount of resources and energy to be produced. You can also use them only once. Try to forgo them as well.
Reusable coffee mug
Stop using: Disposable coffee cups
Why are they bad? Again, they create a lot of waste because you use them only once. They use up an enormous amount of resources, e.g. about 20 million trees per year just for paper cups. Usually they cannot be recycled because the paper has a plastic coating and other disposable cups as well as the plastic lids are made of polypropylene, polystyrene and/or PET.
Start using instead: Reusable coffee mugs
Good to know: Some coffee stores give you a discount on their drinks when you bring your own reusable mug. If you also want to save money, fill your mug at home and bring your coffee with you.
French press & reusable coffee filter
Stop using: Paper coffee filters and capsules
Why are they bad? Paper coffee filters produce much waste because they are made for only one use. Coffee capsules are actually terrible and mostly end up in landfill (no matter that big companies promise you differently in their advertisements). It doesn’t really matter if you use aluminum capsules or plastic pods, their production uses up too many resources and they are mostly not recycled – and even then they are a big heap of waste.
Start using instead: French press and reusable coffee filters
Loose tea, tea infuser & reusable tea bags
Stop using: Tea bags
Why are they bad? Sadly, most tea bags are made of bleached paper, plastic or nylon, and sealed with glue and other chemicals. When you open a box of tea, you often notice that each tea bag is wrapped again, which is totally unnecessary. While the tea bag materials can harm your health, they also create waste. They cannot be recycled or composted.
Start using instead: Loose tea, tea infuser and reusable tea bags