If you buy your daily cup of coffee in a disposable container, you are generating about 22.75 pounds of waste per year. Reduce waste by using a reusable mug at home, in the office and on the go, instead of opting for single-use containers for coffee and tea.
You could also be wasting money as personal finance experts recommend making it at home to save over $300 a year. Across the country, 25 billion Styrofoam cups are thrown away every year, according to the EPA. That is cause for great alarm because polystyrene takes hundreds of years to break down, and is made of nonrenewable petroleum.
Cups made of paper products are easier on the environment, but they are made of trees and can result in destructive deforestation. Even recycled paper cups require considerable energy to produce and distribute. Even compostable containers, as fantastic as they are for breaking down in 30 days, will only do so in a commercial compost. So unless you pay attention to how you are throwing them away, the benefit is lost.
It's wise to use ceramic or glass containers for your hot beverages, because plastics can leach out small amounts of potentially harmful chemicals over time, like pthalates and bisphenol A. If the risk of breakage is high, and for on-the-go uses, consider stainless steel.
As an added incentive, remember that many coffee shops and university food services offer discounts for those who bring in their own reusable containers. Starbucks, for example, offers a 10-cent discount to those with their own mugs.