Thursday, May 14, 2009

"Recycled" Cups and Policy Perspectives

I was in the graduate department office today, tying up some loose ends. I was thirsty. Somehow, I had left my Sigg at home. So I used a disposable paper cup to get some water.

I noticed that the department is trying -- they are using the "bare" line of the Solo cups. "Bringing Alternative Resources for the Environment," the brand uses 10% post-consumer recycled paper. Really? 10%? Plus there's the plastic lining...ugh.

What I really don't understand is why these cups are made with so little post-consumer paper when you can print on 100% post-consumer paper that looks perfectly great. For example, the student journal Policy Perspectives (which features an article by yours truly!) uses lots of eco-friendly methods. The editors didn't stop with that awesome-looking 100% post-consumer paper. They also made sure the paper was created using renewable energy, printed with soy-based ink, used chlorine-free processing, and purchased carbon offsets for the printing and editorial processes. That means they basically produced the journal at social cost (not just at the cheapest cost they could do from an organizational, budgetary standpoint). And did you know that using soy-based inks means they consumed "less than 1 percent of the energy required by traditional, petroleum-based inks" (Policy Perspectives 2009. Design Note)? Want more about the journal? Check out the website (linked above) or the blog.

Is it the fact that cups are going to affect food/beverage intake? Is it a health thing? Because the cup is also going to get lined with something to make it waterproof, so how much does it matter where the recycled paper has been? Anyway, I feel bad about my one-time use cup experience.

On the plus side, I was strong tonight. I refused a cookie wrapped in plastic. Fortunately, I could get an ice cream cone instead. Ahh, ice cream, my treat of perfection. Love how you eat the container!

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