In Praise of Ceramic Coffee Cups Ceramic Coffee Cup Saves the Planet
The debate about ceramic cups versus paper cups has been going on for some time. The debate usually points out, that if a person uses their paper cup five times, then recycles it properly, that it is , more Eco-friendly than a ceramic cup, which has to be used 1000 to 3000 times before it has the greater advantage.
Academically, that sounds good, until you put the average person's behavior into the mix.
Paper cup users rarely use a paper cup more than once, this because most people buy their coffee on the go in paper cups. It is an even rarer feat that that cup will be recycled. Because most places the people finish their coffee or tea provide garbage cans but rarely offer recycle bins.
Whereas, ceramic cup owners usually keep using their cups, especially if it is their "favorite" from five to twenty years. Part of this is because ceramic coffee cups are mainly found in the home. Many people do not take their ceramic cups or mugs to work or outside the immediate area of the home, but those that do, tend to reuse that cup or mug over and over.
To further favor the use of ceramic cups, here are three more facts about paper cups, courtesy of the EPA and Department of Interiors, Forestry Reports.
To make a the 16 billion paper cups used once and thrown away by coffee drinkers on the go it requires close to seven million trees harvested annually.
Land fills receive closed to 800 million tons of single use, non-recycled, paper cups each year and that creates methane gas and other toxic gasses in the billions of pounds.
The waxed coating, that plastic resin, which requires special handling, when applied at the factory to the paper cup, that protects the cup from leaking, is carcinogenic.
Ceramic cups are made from natural clay, which has been fired, then cooled. Once the clay become crystalline is is then called ceramic. Clay, made up mostly of phyllosilicate minerals, is a product of the Earth that is in great abundance. Clay is easy to form and can be fun to work with. Remember how fun it looked in the movie, "Ghost?" Once the clay is shaped into a cup or a mug, it is fired in a kiln, which is a type of oven that heats up to 1200-1500 degrees Fahrenheit. Ceramic cups are re-useable, while paper cups can be, but, again, the behavior of most consumers is to use them once and throw them away.
In addition, there is another positive economic event that must be examined. The making of ceramic cups provide greater employment to many individual pottery artists that tend to be more intune with the ecology than the few large paper companies, that use massive machines, requiring greater uses of electricity, and the storage of very toxic chemicals, that leach into the surrounding ground waters. Some large coffee companies even offer ceramic coffe cups for sale and give discounts for customer's that use their own cups.
Ceramic cups can be very environmentally friendly and economically viable. When an Eco-friendly paints, containing no lead, that use natural ingredients, are applied, before the firing, the resulting effect creates something that can be both an individual and stunning piece of art that can be used daily. Such a cup makes a statement about its user. It says that the user is an individual, independent of the corporate single mind think.
Whereas; a paper cup requires the use of polluting inks to scratch the indelible image of a corporate logo. The logo creates an image of massive clones working as a cogs in the corporate machinery.
Ceramic cups have another advantage over paper cups. When they are no longer able to be used as a cup, it can be broken down and recycled into powder, then commercially used as cat litter, potting soils, and even, in the alternative house building market as a base gravel, used to insulate the space between external and internal walls, creating a structure that cost less in energy costs, remains comfortable all year round, and when the house is finally leveled in future years, will simply be recycled directly back into the earth. Paper cups that end up in land fills never become recycled, so if a person does use the paper, they should recycle.
In addition, to the practical uses of ceramic cups, they also have another healthy effect. With ceramic cups their becomes and emotional bond and it is likely that one will say, "Do you like my cup?" Paper cups have no such following and the usual reference to the cup is the contents inside, such as , "I take my coffee with cream and sugar." No emotion is attached to the paper cup.
Using a ceramic cup requires the user to slow down and accept a more relaxed pace in their lives. This can reduce stress, a major killer in the USA. By people using their own ceramic cup, they create a positive image within the user. The cup they choose to use says something about them, it brings them a little joy and happiness, it gives them individuality. Each cup is made individually, if a local artist is used, and that makes the user appreciate the cup. they will take care of the cup and in so doing, may increase their efforts of care in other areas of their life.
Paper cups, that are mass produced, provide no emotional connection, presenting an image that no one is an individual but all are corporate clones caught up in the hurried pace of a demanding world that will only lead to heart attacks, hyper-tension, and frustration. The clones won't be missed when they fall.
So next time, you go to your favorite coffee shop, and order a cup of coffee or tea, ask for a ceramic coffee cup or better yet, bring in your own. The shop owners may be a little put out, at first, but if you remind them that it costs them a lot of money in inventory, for those paper cups, that you are really doing them a favor by saving them from spending so much money on their business. Who knows, after they think about it, they might even give you a free cup of coffee in your ceramic cup with the painted teddy bear on it.