STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES - EARTH SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Sustainable Choices

Bring a Reusable Coffee Mug or Water Bottle When Out

Simplicity:
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Carbon Impact:
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Money Savings:
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Health Helper:
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Overview
One of the simplest ways to reduce waste is by eliminating is altogether! A perfect example of this motto is the reusable coffee mug or thermos. Imagine the resources we would save if every coffee drinker brought a reusable cup to the coffee shop—even just for one day. If every Starbucks customer used a re-usable coffee thermos, we could save 1,181,600 tons of wood, 2,040,061,237 pounds of carbon dioxide, and 4,441,093,624 gallons of water every year. That’s more carbon dioxide than would be emitted if the entire population of San Francisco got in their cars and drove from San Francisco to New York. And it’s enough water to supply all of Los Angeles for 8 days. If you buy hot drinks on a regular basis, you can join this vision of resource conservation by buying yourself a functional (and stylish!) thermos. Start by taking it to your favorite shop and asking them to fill it instead of the usual paper cup. Pretty soon, you won’t be able to believe you ever used disposable cups.

Tips & Tricks
Buy yourself a thermos. These come in many sizes, colors, and stylish designs. The best part about the thermos: it can keep your drink hot for hours on end!

Ask your coffee shop if they give a discount to customers who bring their own mug or thermos. Many coffee shops are accustomed to filling personal containers, and some even give a discount if you bring one.

Decorate your coffee container. Use sticker and pens to personalize your thermos or mug and make it stand out in a crowd.

Calculate your impact. Use the Environmental Defense Paper Calculator to learn how many resources go into producing the paper products you use (www.environmentaldefense.org/papercalculator/)

Web & Print Resources
Coffee shops that give discounts for reusable mugs:
Starbucks: www.environmentaldefense.org/article.cfm?contentID=791

Web sites of stores that sell thermos:
www.thermos.com/
www.starbucksstore.com/
www.peets.com/shop/essentials_mugs.asp
www.rei.com/category/5760751

Explanation of thermos technology:
www.thermos.com/technologies.aspx

Paper calculator—environmental impacts of paper: www.environmentaldefense.org/papercalculator/

Analysis of Starbucks coffee cup impacts:
“Report of the Starbucks Coffee Company/ Alliance for Environmental Innovation Joint Task Force,” A project of Environmental Defense and The Pew Charitable Trust, April 15, 2000.

Fun Facts

The average American drinks 91 liters of bottled water per year. Source

As the country's number-one coffee retailer, Starbucks goes through 1.9 billion coffee cups every year. Source

If every Starbucks customer used a re-usable coffee thermos, we could save 1,181,600 tons of wood, 2,040,061,237 pounds of carbon dioxide, and 4,441,093,624 gallons of water every year. That’s more carbon dioxide than would be emitted if the entire population of San Francisco got in their cars and drove from San Francisco to New York. And it’s enough water to supply all of Los Angeles for 8 days.

Thermoses use a vacuum lining to keep their contents super-insulated. Some thermoses keep liquid piping hot for up to 12 hours!