Turns Out Even Reusable Coffee Cups Can Be Bad For The Environment And I Give Up

Is nothing sacred?

If you’re one of the rare people who actually remembers to bring their reusable coffee cup to the cafe, then you should bask in the good karma while you can, because apparently, they’re not as environmentally-friendly as we all thought.

Sorry, what!? Credit: Giphy

In a piece for The Conversation, Caroline Wood, a PhD researcher in food security at the University of Sheffield explained that a reusable coffee cup would need to be used between 20 and 100 times in order to have lower emissions than a disposable cup, and the average joe just isn’t meeting the mark. 

Would you like a reality check with that? Credit: Giphy

Despite the popularity of the KeepCup, Wood notes that reusable cups typically make less than 5% of sales. “The unavoidable truth is that it simply isn’t convenient for people on the run to remember their cup, carry it around and wash it out between uses.”

The reason it takes so many uses for a reusable cup to offset its higher greenhouse gas emissions is due to “the greater amount of energy and material required to make a durable product and the hot water needed to wash them.”

If you’re a single-use coffee cup offender, the situation is much worse. Disposable coffee cups have a thin plastic lining which can’t be processed by paper recycling, so they end up in the landfill with the rest of our junk.

Even if your coffee cup can be recycled, there are still issues worth considering. “It consumes a lot of energy, generates greenhouse gas emissions through transporting cups to the correct facility and can be inefficient due to contamination from incorrect disposal,” she said.

Eep. Credit: Giphy

So, what are coffee-drinkers supposed to do!? Wood suggests rediscovering “the delight of dining in, with a proper china cup.” It’s a romantic idea, but not very realistic when you’re running late to work in the morning. 

We wish. Credit: Giphy

Perhaps the only around this is to make sure you use a reusable cup for every drink you consume, and fill it with liquids that require little washing. That’s got to be worth some good karma, right?

Great, Humans Are Being Pushed 'Close To Thermal Limits' Because The World Is Now A Sizzling Ball Of Fire

The crisis continues.

Unless you’ve already locked yourself in a doomsday prepper basement bunker, you’d be well aware that we are in the thick of a climate change crisis, and the recent stats are alarming to say the least.

Last week, it was reported that we only have 18 months to save the planet, and today marks Earth Overshoot Day, which means we’ve used up all the natural resources that the planet can replace in a year.

True, Obama. Credit: Giphy

If that wasn’t troubling enough, there’s more bad news.

According to a climate scientist, extreme global temperatures are pushing the human body “close to thermal limits.” Europe has been overcome with a record-breaking heat wave over the past week. However, those temperatures are nothing compared to South Asia and the Persian Gulf, where people are experiencing heat reaching up to 54C.

It’s time to face the facts. Credit: Giphy

Tom Matthews, who is a lecturer in climate science at Loughborough University explained the situation to The Conversation. “When the air temperature exceeds 35C, the body relies on the evaporation of water – mainly through sweating – to keep core temperature at a safe level.”

The reality of the situation. Credit: Giphy

Matthews explained that this system works until the “wetbulb” temperature meets 35C. The wetbulb temperature “includes the cooling effect of water evaporating from the thermometer, and so is normally much lower than the normal temperature reported in weather forecasts.”

If the wetbulb temperature threshold is crossed, the air is so full of water vapour, sweat no longer evaporates. “Without the means to dissipate heat, our core temperature rises, irrespective of how much water we drink, how much shade we seek, or how much rest we take.”

Scorching. Credit: Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

While wetbulb temperatures of 35C aren’t common, there is evidence that they are beginning to occuring in Southwest Asia. According to Matthews, climate change means that by the end of the century they could also occur in the Persian Gulf, South Asia and the North China plain, affecting billions of people.

Matthews stated that “adaptation has its limits,” and the only way to overcome the crisis is to pursue a “global response,” which involves slashing greenhouse gas emissions. It sounds like at this point, the only way forward is by working together on an international scale.

The 1975's New Single Is A Huge Slap In The Face For Climate Change Deniers

Time to wake up.

Instead of blessing us with yet another banger, British band The 1975 have released a new single containing a very powerful and important message about climate change.

The track features 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg speaking over the band’s minimal background music: “We are right now in the beginning of a climate and ecological crisis. And we need to call it what it is. An emergency.”

“We must acknowledge that we do not have the situation under control and that we don’t have all the solutions yet. Unless those solutions mean that we simply stop doing certain things,” she continued.

“We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. And now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.”

“…So, everyone out there, it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel,” she ended her moving speech.

Thunberg announced via social media that all profits from the release of the track will go to socio-political movement Extinction Rebellion.

The young activist addressed legislators at France’s parliament this week where she told them to “unite behind the science” of climate change, and said “you don’t have to listen to us, but you do have to listen to the science.”

Greta Thunberg. Credit: Micah Garen/Getty Images

Thunberg’s words couldn’t have come at a more pivotal time. According to BBC news, action will need to be taken in the next 18 months to deal with the global heating crisis, amongst other environment concerns. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that to keep the rise of global temperatures below 1.5C this century, we would need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030. 

Clearly, we’re seriously running out of time, and every little action we take now is critical.

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