Paper or plastic? Styrofoam or glass?

There is so much of disposable products in our lives. From plastic bags to diapers to pens (whatever happened to ballpoint refills – does nobody use those anymore?)

For a cup of tea in a clean glass

When I am outside and I feel like having some hot tea, I think twice before getting a cup. Most of our small tea shops or vending machines use plastic cups, occasionally paper cups (which do have a plastic coating).

I generally ask for a glass or steel tumblers. Even if they are available, the downside is the hygiene level of the tumblers. I console myself that the tea would be quite hot & so it is ok.

For the record, styrofoam though not buidegradable, is supposed to be a better option. Because it is not a very dense product, not too much of petroleum based raw material is used in making it. Production of paper impacts the environment more because the production process – cutting of trees, pulping and bleaching is harmful. Plus it is likely that your paper cup has a plastic coating, which doesn’t make it really degradable!

The best thing is have a reusable ceramic (heavy!) or melamine cup in your bag that you can rinse after use. I don’t (yet) walk around with a tea cup in my bag, but I did carry it everyday when I was attending a short course where they served tea in paper cups every time. So there!

Takeaway containers in sit-down restaurants

I remember when we were young, we would occasionally get ‘hotel’ food (something we always looked forward to – my father would go with some steel large steel containers & get dosas and ‘hotel sambar’ (that delicious dish which cannot be recreated at home, perhaps because the cooks’ sweat added some wonderful flavours!)

Takeaway joints these days are totally dependant on disposable containers. That is one thing, what about restaurants that serve patrons right in their premises with disposable glasses & plates. I can think of some pizza chains and fast food restaurants that do this. Why can they not serve in regular ceramic or melamine plates & cups? They are big enough to accomodate the dishwashing process.

Think of the amount of plastic & cardboard waste that every meal generates!! Should we stay away from such restaurants?

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About Meera K 42 Articles
Meera K is the co-founder of Citizen Matters, the award-winning civic media platform. She also helped initiate Open City, an urban data platform ( Meera is an Ashoka Fellow, recognised for her work building open knowledge platforms that allow citizens to collaborate and improve their cities. She is Founder-trustee at Oorvani Foundation.