The true waste of ’hot cups’ for iced drinks

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Do you love iced coffee so much that you willingly buy it throughout the winter regardless of how freezing cold it is outside? Having a cold beverage in 2 degree weather might sound a little ridiculous, but so many of us do it. I’m guilty of it. However, what I’m not guilty of is getting an extra hot cup to put my plastic iced coffee cup inside of, just so my hands don’t get cold. That’s what gloves are for. Two cups for one drink? Talk about a waste! It is especially troubling because the Styrofoam cup ends up in the trash with the plastic cup (which should be recycled separately anyway).

Double cups can cost a few cents extra, while sometimes they are free of charge. At this point, it is up to the Dunkin Donuts franchise owners if they want to charge for the second cup or not. The outside foam cup restricts the coldness, keeping it away from your already cold hands. This basically acts as an iced coffee koozie, which Dunkin Donuts actually now sells for a few dollars. They are reusable and do the same exact thing as the extra Styrofoam cup does without the significant ecological consequences. Also, for those of you who also double-cup in the summer because it contains the condensation, the koozie addresses that problem as well.

I am not trying to sell you this product, but I am telling you that the double cup is completely unnecessary and wasteful. Styrofoam itself is very bad for the environment. According to Bloomberg Business, Styrofoam is made out of a type of “thermoplastic petrochemical called expanded polystyrene” and this is not biodegradable and cannot be recycled. It significantly adds to overall waste and can actually contaminate the course of recyclable metal, glass, and plastics.

Almost 100 cities and towns have banned single-use Styrofoam food and beverage containers. This is in an effort by cities to reduce waste and to become more environmentally friendly, as there has not yet been a solution to effectively recycling this plastic foam. New York City is among those with a styrofoam ban; they have until the summer of 2015 to find a way to make this material safely recyclable before the official ban goes into effect. If this passes, it will have a huge impact on Dunkin Donuts, other coffee shops, restaurants, and stores, as they may no longer be able to sell products using this type of packaging.

Dunkin Donuts has a lot to think about considering the increasing number of foam bans in large cities. According to the New York Daily News, Dunkin Donuts has been trying a few alternatives, one of them being a “double-walled paper cup.” However, they are still fearful that customers may not like this alternative and will want the iconic original cups that function just as well.

At this point, it is difficult to tell what exactly is going to happen; Dunkin Donuts and other restaurants still have some time to figure out alternative options. Meanwhile, before asking for that second cup that you barely use and don’t really need, consider how harmful that luxury actually is. Think about the long term implications of those cups on the environment, as they build up in landfills for years.

Buy some gloves, a koozie, or maybe just bear the cold for the few minutes that you will be outside. You will be okay, the environment on the other hand, cannot survive like this. If we continue to use these non-recyclable materials, we are unnecessarily contributing to excessive waste and its effects on the environment.

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