Tired of looking helplessly on as otherwise perfectly nice social events devolve into arguments over the relative eco-correcitude of paper versus Styrofoam cups? Both sides have points. Paper cups require far more energy to manufacture than Styrofoam. But polystyrene-the basic ingredient for Styrofoam-will not decompose in a landfill. If and when it makes its way into the aquatic environment-and reportedly there’s an island of the stuff in the Pacific somewhere about the size of Texas-it’s seriously bad news for all critters concerned.
The Indy just decided to finesse this whole debate by opting for traditional ceramic mugs. We went to paper in the first place because ceramic mugs proved to be a housekeeping nightmare, and the mold growing out of unwashed mugs became a public health menace. The Indy - lead by the redoubtable management team of Jen Malkin, Tom Morey, and Matt Kettmann - is trying to prevent this from becoming a problem by passing out a unique and easily identifiable mug to each worker.
To stimulate employee enthusiasm for the new approach, the Indy hosted a “Mug-a-rita” work party at which tequila and beer were served. We understand that even ceramic mugs have their issues. For example, one mug requires about 650 times the energy needed to manufacture a foam cup. Fortunately, most mugs are good for about 3,000 drinks. In the meantime, maybe we aren’t saving any polar bears, but we are keeping about 21,000 paper cups out of the landfill each year.