Like most college students, I binge drink. Coffee, that is. Mornings are too harsh to face without the companionship of warm caffeine and I begin my day with 16 ounces of the real Maxwell House deal. No instant brew for me, I march down to the local java depot and pay three times the market rate for…well, for a cup of overpriced coffee.
One morning I happened to glance at my coffee cup – a cheap contrivance adorned with modern commercial art – and read the notice: “100% Biodegradable.”
Biodegradable, for those of you who couldn’t get past the third syllable, means readily compostable. You know those warm and smelly compost piles your grandma used to keep under her sink? The material of my cup was compost minus a few weeks decomposition time.
Can you say appetizing?
So there I was, standing in the cold with a fresh cup of joe, waiting for the recycled fibers to start falling apart and give me my second warm shower of the day, when it hit me like a bad mid-term grade: Where should I dispose of my cup?
Tossing a carefully engineered, enviro-friendly container in with all the other landfill garbage seemed like a big waste, pun intended (sorry). But I couldn’t justify placing it with the aluminum cans either.
And while the cup was environmentally friendly, the lid was made of unrecycled petroleum-based plastic, which would resist rot for decades. The cardboard insulation sleeve promised similar decomposition stubbornness.
I would have to throw it out in parts, like a serial killer disposing of a body.
But what of the coffee inside my cup?
It was probably made from conflict roast farmed by underprivileged farmers on the “wrong” side of Columbia. And the cocoa in the mocha was arguably from child laborers in the Congo. And the half and half was probably sucked from abused cattle masquerading as “happy cows” in the cheese commercials.
So I dug a hole in my backyard lawn and laid my cup to rest.