Sunday, April 18, 2010

Celebrations & Coffee Cups

-- Quote of the Day --

In 2005, Americans used and discarded 14.4 billion disposable paper cups for hot beverages. If put end-to-end, those cups would circle the earth 55 times. Based on anticipated growth of specialty coffees, that number will grow to 23 billion by 2010—enough to circle the globe 88 times. Based on hot cup usage in 2005, the petrochemicals used in the manufacture of those cups could have heated 8,300 homes for one year.”

-- Conscious Celebrations --

April is an incredibly busy, and exciting month - so many proactive actions happening across the globe...

We've done our best so far to celebrate activities and celebrations for April; Poetry Month, Library Month, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, Prevention of Child Abuse Month, Autism Awareness Month... and we'll continue to offer great tips, interviews and resources for these celebrations all month long on our blog & the Conscious Discussions radio show.

Annually, during the 4th week of April, communities across Canada participate in – Pitch In Week. Millions of Canadians join in more than 22,000 recorded proactive projects with other volunteers, greening the planet in a myriad of ways.

Prevention of Violence Against Women Week is happening this week as well... you can find lots of information online about activities happening in your area, but some general resources for finding out more about this awareness holiday:

-- Coffee Cups --

Did you know that there are nearly 1.2 Million paper coffee cups thrown out in the city of Toronto (Ontario, Canada) every single day? Can you imagine a pile of a million cups on your lawn every single morning? That is a lot of cups - and that is only ONE city on this planet. Times that by a few million and you'll have a better idea as to how one single, seemingly small disposable item can become a problem. In fact, ANYTHING disposable is a problem... But I digress...

The cost of these conveniences on our cities is three-fold. First - cities are noticing that the cleanup costs from people leaving cups at bus stops, along streets, throw them out the car, leave them in parking lots... or blown out of the back of truck beds - is huge. Larger cities can spend as much as $50,000 annually on the clean up aspects alone. Secondly, the items are sent to the landfill - since they are not usually accepted in the recycling system - and in the landfill they take up valuable space... and landfills are filling up fast! Third - the cost organics in the landfill is rarely addressed. Coffee cups break down like all organics in the landfill... which is anaerobically. This means the organics are breaking down without oxygen where their gas and liquid leachates combine with other liquids and gasses in the landfill, creating a toxic soup. This "soup" leaks into waterways, seeps into the land and air... causing all kinds of pollution issues. Methane gas, which is one of the gasses released by organics in the landfill, is extremely damaging to the planet.

So what can be done? Well, I'm sure that we all have seen a couple of things happening in the coffee suppler's shops... Personally I've seen coffee cups go from polystyrene foam (a.k.a. Styrofoam) to paper cups that will break down over time, despite being waxed. I've also seen suppliers offering reusable options for the consumer right beside the till or somewhere near the coffee dispenser. These are excellent steps in the right direction, that is for sure. But we can go much farther with this issue.

Some cities are putting out bans on plastic lids associated with to-go drink containers, others are putting fines or taxes out for the use of disposable food contianers, and incentives for those who choose alternatives. Other cities, that have organic recycling systems available (composting facilitites), are offering pick up options for businesses, cafes and individuals. There are issues in the composting process of these cups however since many of them actually have a plastic liner, and the separation of this item can be difficult. However biodegradable options are available for us to consider.

Find Dave & Lillian Brummet, excerpts from their books, information about their radio shows & free resources & articles at

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