Before paper cups were invented, it was common to have communal glasses at water stations in schools, on trains and other public everyday areas. An investigative public announcement, which enlightened many to these hazards of sharing public cups, was published in Technical World Magazine in 1908 called “Death in School Drinking Cups”. This article paints a good picture of how many germs covered these communal cups and the extremely high chances of the spread of disease.
Most of us have used or at least heard of the “Dixie Cup”, the single use paper cups that were dispensed to ensure the consumer was using a new, untouched, disposable cup. Starting in 1910 with the original name, The Health Kup, the company started a manufacturing production site in New York with hired engineers who had the skills to develop these dispensing devices and Health Kups in a large amount. In 1916, the owners asked their production space neighbors, the Dixie Doll company, if they could borrow part of their company name to designate a memorable name for themselves, becoming Dixie Cup. Catchy! In 1921, the first line of packaged Dixie Cups for residential use was released. (Dixie Cup History, p.1).
As paper cups were found less expensive and less time consuming compared to washing reusable cups, along with the cleanliness aspect, the use of paper cups boomed! With a huge jump in demand, today, paper cups morphed with upgrades such as a thin lining of plastic inside so liquids didn’t seep through and have the ability to keep coffee’s, teas, and the like, hot.
“If non-recyclables end up in the recycling bin, it could contaminate the whole bin, and a lot of recyclable materials will end up in the landfill. Recycling incorrectly is almost as bad as not recycling at all” (Sunrisesanitation, p.1, 2019).
Paper cups have become low on the recycle list due to many facilities not having the ability to separate the thin plastic lining from the paper. Step one is becoming aware that items with combined materials are not always recyclable and should be disposed of in the trash (Sunrisesanitation, p.1, 2019).
A reusable water bottle is a great alternative to paper cups offered in your office at work, business around town, restaurants, etc. Using a washable bottle will ensure you help do your part to free our environment from garbage that stays in landfills for years, garbage in our oceans that are affecting wildlife and in turn effecting our sea food and health as humans.
So, remember, stay hydrated, but use a reusable!
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Sources and further readings:
School Hygiene – Davison, Prof. Alvin – P.65 – 1908
History Of Dixie® Paper Cups and Plates: Dixie®
The Problem With Recycling Disposable Coffee Cups – Sunrisesanitation – 2019