We’re all about making the world a cleaner and healthier place. Mad respect to everyone who brings their travel mug to Starbucks and uses canvas bags at the grocery store. It’s awesome to see governments and businesses reflect our green-mindedness too with their programs and policies. As much as we love that though, it’s possible Vancouver has gone a little too far with its latest environmentally friendly suggestion. The city is tabling legislation to ban disposable cups and containers from businesses. That means no more styrofoam takeout containers and no more paper coffee cups. What?
The city’s solution to the inevitable ‘where do I put my coffee?’ problem is a mug-share program. Now, before you throw up, hear us out. That might not actually be as bad as it sounds. GO box is a company based in Portland, Oregon that provides reusable takeout containers to associated vendors which can be used, returned by the customer, washed and then used again. The program is meant to make waste-free fast food possible and it seems to be working there. Vancouver would try to adopt a similar program, but expand it to cups as well.
It seems like people aren’t as on-board with the idea of sharing a cup as they are with sharing a takeout container. There must be something about putting your mouth directly on something that makes you less inclined to share it, even if it’s been washed. The weird thing is that we do it in restaurants all the time. What makes a shared travel mug different from a shared wine glass?
The real question here is: is it practical to ban disposable containers city-wide? We’re not sure how that would look logistically. That’s a lot of businesses that would need to drastically alter how they do business. Not saying change isn’t possible, it’s just difficult. This GO box thing seems to be a pretty good start.
The program does have it’s kinks though. One problem we can see is the overuse of plastic. Styrofoam isn’t great for you, but while we’re evaluating what we put our food in, maybe we shouldn’t be investing in a program that centers around plastic (which we’re told time and time again is going to kill us all).
We also need to look at the durability of the product. If we’re reusing these plastic containers that have presumably had meals in them, there must be little lacerations in them from using silverware that will collect bacteria and never truly get clean. Also, just because the container is made of harder plastic doesn’t mean people won’t throw it out. It might actually make people less likely to recycle them and more likely to throw them in a landfill. Just some things to consider moving forward. In the meantime, keep using that travel mug and we’ll see where this thing goes.