Much Ado Over Capitol Coffee Cups

How many of you lost sleep over the Friday vote on Styrofoam cups in the capitol complex? You may rest easy, as the vote rejected the amendment* to block funding for use of the common cups in the House’s food service facilities. Several articles on the Hill blog discussed this vote. The discussion also involved the CFL light bulb, the issue that was of most interest in other media stories.

In the report on the debate about the cups, there was much back and forth of which party was most environmentally in tune and which wasn’t. The one remark that probably swayed the negative votes the most was the following: “ … the amendment would do nothing to stop the use of polystyrene packaging. Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) said the underlying spending bill does not fund House restaurants, so the amendment would have no effect.”

So why all the arguing over a non-issue? That’s politics. But for coffee lovers, the point to be made is that there definitely is value in ridding the industry of the polystyrene cups. Definitely not green, they are a problem for disposal and, more importantly, they may have undesirable effects on health. Some reports state the main chemical used, styrene, may leach out of the cups and into the contents when those contents are hot.

Therefore, coffee lovers need to consider their use of these cups. The best way to avoid using them is to bring your own cup, and find coffee shops that are willing to fill your own cup rather than insist you take a Styrofoam one. Some of the paper based cups aren’t any better, especially if coated with wax. The most healthy options - in both the environmental and body sense - are made of glass, ceramic or stainless steel. Glass, being breakable, isn’t practical for travel or take-away use, but there are some great stainless and ceramic options out there.

ROASTe has several kinds of safe and non-breakable travel mugs. A few are below.

* An article more in depth on the exact amendment’

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