I am simply guilt-ridden by my recent addiction. It’s horrifying. It’s unacceptable. I apologize to my environment and my overly-taxed immune system. What is it? It’s my daily coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. Every morning, like a zombie, I tap at my iPhone Dunkin’ app and place my favorite mobile order—a large coconut-flavored coffee with 4 creams and 3 sugars. I stumble across the street to retrieve it from DD’s to-go basket, and without a word to anyone, I scurry out and climb the stairs back up to my apartment.
It may seem obvious why this is terrible, but if it isn’t, let me explain. First of all, I should be more careful with my spending. My income to debt ratio is, let’s say… alarming? Yes, that’s a good word for it. Also, the city of Portland (the Maine one) is a foodie town. In addition to amazing restaurants, Portland has terrific locally-owned coffee shops, none of which use foam cups (often referred to as Styrofoam)… which brings me to my third egregious point. DD uses foam cups! Atrocious! Although my actions don’t always reflect it, I am very concerned about the environment, waste, recycling, and our planet’s finite resources. Foam is rarely recycled because it’s not cost effective, so we are supposed to throw it in the trash. At least I know that my trash is delivered to EcoMaine where they responsibly incinerate it into ash for ash landfills. But… is it made from a sustainable resource? Oh, and is styrofoam harmful to humans?
That’s a no, and a yes. Bad news on both accounts. Foam food containers and cups are made from the material polystyrene, which is a petroleum-based plastic. Petroleum is a fossil fuel, and fossil fuels are finite resources since they take millions of years to form. It gets worse. The main building block of polystyrene is a synthetic chemical called styrene, which has been identified to be, with reasonable certainty, a human carcinogen—a substance that promotes the formation of cancer. When this styrene toxin deteriorates, it can leach out and contaminate the environment, food, and beverages.
I am ashamed. I must quit. I will quit… in two weeks. Or…. we make Dunkin’ Donuts switch to cardboard cups and force them to donate 10% to community initiatives!
I’ve got some work to do.
July 15th Edit: The following article came out 4 days after I wrote this! Lots of good info and hopeful solutions in the foam cup industry. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/315159
I welcome fact-checking. Please contact me if I have referenced something in error!