Reuse and recycling

Plastic water bottles and coffee cups drive me crazy since they are such one-time use products. I never buy water in plastic bottles – I have a little metal water bottles and I just refill those.

I was excited to see Fast Company’s article on water bottles which lays out the landscape but also brainstorms ideas on how to change consumer behavior.

Some of the ideas like the Drink Tap Water bottle tops are great in terms of design and functionality. It’s also so easy to carry around by the tap on top. Wonderful.

I also really liked the LUNAR Elements design of a bottle that a consumer returns at the supermarket and it get’s etched with a news headline of the day – over time, the bottle “ages” with more and more headlines. Really cool (check out the article for more details).

I like the design and the thinking, but at the end of the day, I think the change has to be driven by cost and ease. My metal bottle was about $18. Not cheap. But that’s only about 9 bottles of water – something I might have bought in a couple of weeks. So it was worth it.

The next issue is ease – if you forget your water bottle, what are the options but to buy… What if the water companies used metal like soda cans instead of plastic. A thin metal can of water instead of a plastic bottle. I’d buy it.

As a frequent coffee shop visitor, my next pet peeve is coffee cups. I was excited when I saw the Starbucks Coffee Cup Challenge. The idea of rewarding every 10th person who bring in a reusable cup is a great idea – reward for good behavior will likely change behavior.

But for the other 9 people who don’t bring in a reusable cup, what’s the alternative? The cup itself doesn’t bother me so much because it’s in paper, but what bothers me is the lid.It’s entirely in plastic. Do we need the whole lid to be plastic? What if just the area within the red rectangle was plastic – the area where a customer’s mouth touches the product and where the hot liquid touches the bottom of the up. The rest could be heavy cardboard couldn’t it? At least that way you’d eliminate 60% of the plastic…

And the cold beverage cups at Starbucks? Entirely plastic with a huge plastic dome of a lid to accommodate the whipped cream. Total disaster. Why can’t cold beverages be in paper cups too? Am I missing something here?


Image of Drink Tap Water – All rights, Fast Company

Image of Starbucks Lid – All rights, Rantwick

One thought on “Reuse and recycling”

  1. Krishnam says:

    Complete myth that plastic is more environmentally unfriendly than paper.
    Consider: for paper- you have to cut down trees, you have to transport the logs, then the massively water and power intensive paper making process (or even worse recycling process which uses massive amounts of toxic Sodium Hydroxide, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Sodium Silicate to repulp the paper)

    Plastic, OTOH, can be much thinner (it's waaaay stronger than paper)- less use of material- and is from easily transportable petroleum. It can also be recycled or turned into energy.
    More can be found here

    [“An argument can be made that plastic decreases landfill mass. Plastics, as a whole, make up 18% of waste by volume and 7% by weight (plastic bags themselves are light and take up very little space). If plastic were to be replaced by other materials, trash weight would increase by 150%, packaging would weigh 300% more and energy consumed by the industry would increase by 100%.”- source

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