28/04/2015

Coffee Cup Seed Bombs Put Litter in an Uncomfortable Grey Area

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Most people reading this want to do their bit for the environment; everyone wants to contribute positively to our world in one way or another. Unfortunately, a seemingly sustainable idea touted by a California-based business is taking advantage of this collective willingness to make an effort in a way that’s perceived as wonderful, but is actually quite detrimental to the anti-littering cause.

The idea is ‘seed bomb coffee cups’. (not the explosive sort, for anyone vaguely worried about this name). Seed bombs are generally a small ball made up of a combination of compost, clay and seeds designed to sprout in areas where seeds alone would not. The business has developed degradable coffee cups with local species of wildflowers embedded into the cup’s materials. The claim is that these cups are revolutionary to the world environmental cause as the growth of wildflowers would aid reforestation. But an unfortunate side effect is an endorsement of both a throwaway culture and excess litter left on the ground.

Environmental organisations have spent decades creating a social taboo around the practice of littering, to discourage people from tossing away their rubbish without a thought. The development of items such as seed bomb coffee cups could demean this seniment, putting the idea into peoples’ minds that littering in some instances is okay. In doing so, they eradicate the hard-earned social cultivation of years of anti-littering advocacy.

We are attempting to create a culture where littering is looked down upon, not one where some types of littering is praised, some is unacceptable, and there exists a grey area. All littering is bad, always. Even dropping an apple core into a natural habitat is littering, and can have detrimental environmental effects (not to mention it looks terrible).

Instead of wasting time and resources on reactive measures such as these coffee cup seed bombs (which are in essence designed to be littered), we should be working on proactive actions such as environmental education, better regional littering approaches and making small changes in our own lives.

Let’s be honest here, if someone’s not willing to make the effort to hold onto their coffee cup until the nearest disposal bin, they’re definitely not going to turn over their cup and be enthralled by the multi-stage instructions on how to best plant their cup to cultivate wild flowers… While the idea does have its positives, the negatives far outweigh them.

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