How green is your coffee cup?

America is a disposable culture. Most of us think nothing of using something like a disposable coffee cup once and throwing it away. This begs the question: What is the best option?


  • Styrofoam cups are infamous because they can take hundreds of years to decompose.
  • Styrofoam can harm the digestive tracts of animals—and animals tend to eat anything you throw at them.
  • Styrofoam often finds its way into the ocean, and while it can degrade there, it also releases toxic chemicals and harms marine life.
  • Styrofoam is a better insulator than paper. That is, it will keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot for a longer period of time.
  • Fewer resources are needed to construct Styrofoam than paper.


  • Paper cups contribute more trash to landfills than Styrofoam.
  • Paper decomposes more quickly than Styrofoam.
  • More resources are required to make a paper cup than a Styrofoam cup.
  • Paper generally doesn’t do nearly as much harm as Styrofoam to animals or marine life.
  • Paper is a poor insulator for beverages.


  • These cups initially use more resources and cost more money. However, each use of the cup closes the gap and you will eventually save money and resources.
  • Not as convenient as disposable cups.
  • Sometimes it just isn’t possible to have one with you.

I believe that we need to move away from a disposable culture and that the use of disposable cups, whether they be Styrofoam or paper, should be the exception rather than the rule.

What kind of coffee cup do you use?

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