“Disposable cups save lives!”

“Disposable cups save lives!”

Said the inventor of the paper cup in the early 1900's.

Paper cups were invented to replace 'the communal cup' - which may have been a metal ladle or a tin can - used at communal water fountains, in schools, churches and places people gathered in the early 20th century.

Paper cups were invented to prevent transmission of communicable diseases at the time. Over time the foldable paper cup evolved to single use plastic lined or plastic.

Evolution of the use of these cups changed (as did coffee drinking), and included:
• keeping people caffeinated during wars
• keeping people caffeinated at work
• infection control in medical settings

Eventually, people wanted to experience the joy of drinking a hot beverage while driving… so the sippy lid was introduced.

The use of psychologically manipulative marketing campaigns changed our belief systems over time.

From fear of infectious disease, to convenience, to being so busy that coffee needed to be “on the go”.

The value of the sturdy communal cup was replaced and reduced to a worthless cup only used once then discarded.

Eventually the behaviour and use of particular products - the disposable coffee cup is a great example - becomes commonplace or "social norm".

Unlearning beliefs around why we use these products starts with learning why we began using them in the first place.

Post by April Hannah waste and recycling facilitator, trainer and speaker
10 July 2023

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