There is so much awesome green information available and I miss blogging about it. So because a greener lifestye is part of our lesbian household mantra (albeit slow to be fully adopted), I’m going to incoporate the topic into this blog. Each Wednesday, I’ll write about a green topic. Big, small, little, etc. And feel free to make a suggestion.
One of my favorite topics are travel mugs. Truth be told, I have too many and we’ve put a moratorium on any further purchases or acquisitions. We also have a slew of mismatched mugs and lids to address.
Americans use about 25 billion styrofoam cups and 58 billion paper coffee cups per year. BILLION. (h/t Earth911) We also order 500 million iced coffee drinks each year. And MOST of these items cannot be recycled.
Useful things to know about travel mugs:
- Stainless steel mugs (or double walled mugs) are often the most insulated. These typically cost more than $10, but have a much longer lifespan that the inexpensive plastic mugs. My “favorite” red travel mug from Starbucks (steel) keeps coffee warm for as long as ten hours. It also survived a big fall onto a concrete surface with only a scratch.
- Discounts. Many coffee houses offer a discount with your mug – typically, anywhere from $.10 to 10% and often just for coffee, not specialty drinks. I’ve been to coffee houses that charge me as little as $.90 (refill price) when I have my travel mug. I love that and it certainly keeps me coming back. Bonus: great way to make the larger investment in a stainless mug pay off …
- Handwash. The stainless and mixed material mugs (stainless with plastic parts) need to be handwashed. I put the lids on the top rack in the dishwasher. Here’s a tip for cleaning the mugs: You can make a paste of vinegar and baking soda and use an old toothbrush for stains. Just to freshen them, you can soak them over night with white vinegar and then just rinse them really well. (h/t Green Grandma Blog)
- Keep one with you. Put one in your car. At your office. Wherever it will be handy for you to grab and use. I keep one in my tote bag/purse (along with a water bottle) 90% of the time. I have three reliable mugs that I rotate and I slide one into a side pocket of my bag. It is great when we stop on a spur of the moment to get coffee. (See discounts.) It is not very green to use the gas to drive to get a mug, nor is it wise to keep buying more reusable mugs to fill your cupboards.
- Repurpose the mugs. When I realized how many mugs w/o lids we had, I went around the house and put them to new use as scoops. One went into the dog food, another into the cat food. A third is used for the winter salt. I have one in the basement for cat litter. The mugs are not recyclable, but I was able to recycle the existing plastic containers I had been using as scoops.
With regard to iced drinks, you can use a travel mug or a reusable plastic tumbler (we have a set that is dishwasher proof) with a lid and straw! I use my travel mug. I estimate I avoid using 4-8 cups per month (36+ annually) at the very minimum. Plus, lids, straws, sleeves, etc.
A few parting thoughts:
- Travel mugs make great gifts. I bought one for Ledcat with the Beatles’ image and it was fanciful enough that she remembers to use it.
- You can purchase reusable “sleeves” to avoid having to waste the cardboard versions available at the stores. I keep mine n my bag so even if I do have to use a disposable cup, I can reduce impact a bit. These are also adorable gifts (with a ceramic mug, very nice.)
- Finally, DO NOT let your pet chew on these mugs or lids. The pieces can splinter off and get lodged in their little throats and stomachs.
Do you use a travel mug? What does your favorite look like? How do you remember to use it? You can win one of two of your very own mugs from Pittsburgh based Crazy Mocha.
Contest begins on Weds Feb 20 and continues through 11:59 Tues Feb 26, 2013!