It literally hurts my head to see people drinking out of white Styrofoam cups.
And I use “literally” in the least literal way possible. It really just drives me nuts. Styrofoam is like the epitome of, “I spit in your face, Earth, I could care less about you.”
- It takes 500 years to break down (if it ever would). In fact, “of the nearly 20 million pounds of waste [Styrofoam] generated annually, about 17.8 million pounds winds up in the air and 1.7 million pounds gets into surface waters.” 1 Styrofoam fills about 25% of the world’s landfills. Ay yi yi!
- Styrene is the main component in Styrofoam (aka polystyrene), and it is likely carcinogenic and leaches into the liquid, especially when it’s hot. 2 Which means, ironically, that the drinks you should NEVER have in foam cups are the hot ones. Which is what people buy foam cups for.
- Styrene is also linked to vision and hearing loss, impaired memory and concentration, and nervous system effects. Wonderful. 3
- The polystyrene manufacturing process is the fifth-largest source of hazardous waste. 4
- Styrofoam does release chemicals into the environment in its production and as it breaks down in the earth, including ozone-depleting CFCs. 5
Seriously. I am even more convinced that foam cups are from the devil, which is why it really really gets in my craw that so many churches contribute to all that waste with their coffee and doughnuts! Ack!
The worst, in my opinion, is when groups use Styrofoam for stuff like kids’ lemonade – our church does simply because they’re more sturdy and apparently kids would crush the paper cups and make more mess.
I’m done with you, Styrofoam.
Will you join me in saying no to Styrofoam cups?
Also, be sure to watch for ANY no. 6 plastic, because all this bad stuff applies – for example, some yogurt cups (especially ones for babies, ack!) are no. 6 as well as some cottage cheese tubs. Never microwave in a leftover container made of Styrofoam! (Here’s how I avoid getting styrofoam leftover containers in the first place!)
I even just read the disposable utensils are usually polystyrene-based – I had no idea!
I’ve been so anti-disposables for so long that we’ve had the same bag of foam cups for literally 10 years. We used some at a tailgate wayyyy back and sometimes used a couple for coffee or hot chocolate while camping, but we even use reusable cups on camping trips now.
I just can’t stomach throwing Styrofoam away.
And while not all throwaway coffee cups are Styrofoam, they all contribute to unnecessary waste – which is why I love these stainless steel tumblers from Mighty Nest.
Skip The Styrofoam and Get a Stainless Steel Coffee Mug
Do the Earth a favor and be a cool chick – take your reusable mug when you get takeout coffee and impress your barista. 😉 Plus, I’ll be super impressed too.
These coffee tumblers over at MightyFix are some of my favorites, and I have on good authority that this one from amazon keeps coffee piping hot for hours.
There are some neat ideas for churches and big gatherings wanting to avoid styrofoam and plastic in the comments – add yours!
Need Some Baby Steps?
Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.
That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and made a printable checklist so you can track your progress.
Sign up to get the checklist and weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.