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World's First Plantable Coffee Cup to Replenish Forests
Unless you bring your own thermos or mug, paper cups are the de facto option for on-the-go coffee. But as we all know, producing these simple items mow down forests of trees and contributes to mountains of landfill waste. In fact, Starbucks alone goes through 4 billion paper cups a year globally and most of these plastic-lined menaces are never recycled.
But a noble project from Reduce. Reuse. Grow. is tackling the coffee industry's behemoth paper cup problem by giving these single-use beverage holders a further purpose: reforestation.
A San Luis Obispo, California startup claims to have developed "The World's First Plantable Coffee Cup." The prototype 12-ouncer has seeds from local nurseries and landscapes embedded within its post-consumer, paper-based material. That means after you're done with the cup, you can unravel it, soak it in water for a few minutes, bury it and let nature take over.
To prevent the spread of invasive plants, the bottom of the cup details the seed variety and also includes instructions on how to plant it either in the northern or central coast of California. (So if you got the cup, you wouldn't want to plant it outside of specific regions). For those who don't want to get their hands dirty, the cup can be tossed into a designated Reduce. Reuse. Grow. bin where it'll eventually be taken to a reforestation location.
The cup is currently in prototype phase, and the company is crowdsource funding in order to take it into commercial production and target coffee shops to stock the cups.
Even though there are already recyclable cups on the market, as Reduce. Reuse. Grow. points out on their Kickstarter page, those cups can only be recycled a few times before it's trashed, whereas their cups are compost certified and can biodegrade within 180 days.
"Even when we think we are recycling and doing a good deed, the paper itself within these products can only be reused [two to three times] before the fibers are unusable and discarded into local landfills without consumer's knowing," the page reads.
Seed-filled everyday items aren't exactly a new concept. There are already plantable greeting cards and even memorial tree urns, as well as a similar paper seed cup that someone tried to market a few years back.
Still, it's clear that something needs to be done about the country's 146 billion paper cup a year problem. Reduce. Reuse. Grow. began as a senior project by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo landscape architecture student Alex Henige, who wrote on his bio page, "The thought of 'throwing away' items which would later be sent into local landfills always seemed like a strange concept and ultimately a huge design flaw within or current consumption day to day actions."
We'll drink to that.
Watch here as Henige shares his concerns about consumerism and the work of Reduce. Reuse. Grow.:
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"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
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