Tag Archives: Fifty for Five Thousand

The Paper Cup Demise

-Tamara Feingold

There’s something about holding that venti-sized paper cup with a cardboard sleeve that I just can’t get enough of.

I’m not going to lie, I texted about five friends in panic when Starbucks updated its cup design last March without warning me. Needless to say, I’m a drip coffee with a little bit of half-and-half and Splenda connoisseur and there’s nothing that says “I’m ready for class” like a good strong cup o’ joe. It’s the last dirty little un-environmentally-friendly habit I’ve hung on to. I ride my bike, don’t use paper towels, and carry reusable grocery bags. I judge people with Hummers.

But when I walked into The Buzz coffeehouse on campus a couple of weeks ago, my usual twenty-ounce drip coffee was $2.75. A little steep for a black cup of java, right? Right. That’s because The Fishbowl, The Buzz, and Union Market have all adopted a new pricing plan:

Use a disposable paper cup: You pay the beverage price plus 50 cents

Use a reusable mug: You pay the beverage price minus 50 cents

As attached as I am to that status symbol of steaming joy, this new payment plan is irresistibly sensible. The concept, which is the result of a recent contest hosted in the EMU called Fifty for Five Thousand, includes all profits from the paper cup tax returning to future sustainability projects.

For those of you hoping to save some money without carting a travel mug around campus all day, fear not. There’s an Adopt-a-Mug program allowing students to use a mug stocked by the coffee shop.

What’s so wrong with an occasional paper cup of coffee, you ask? Usually, the coffee cups aren’t made from recycled paper and the plastic coating that keeps your beverage warm also means it ends up in a landfill. According to the Environment Action Association, Americans consume about 400 million cups of coffee per day, which is disturbingly comedic.

If nothing else can get to poor college students, it’s a raise in prices. Especially in coffee, which I consider to be vital to the finals/no sleep/early classes experience that is the University of Oregon.

For that reason, as I sit in The Buzz listening to The Black Keys I’m sipping out of my brand new, twelve ounce, stainless steel with a screw lid and mug full of piping hot coffee. And if I, a diehard daily paper cup fiend, can switch over, so can the rest of Eugene.

NOTE: 12 OZ coffee mug not recommended for true coffee drinkers. What was I thinking? Someone get me a 20 OZ for my birthday.