Okay, let’s get this straight. Mere replacement of coffee cups as a means to do our bit to save Planet Earth needs a reality check. Sure, coffee shop majors Starbucks and Costa Coffee have replaced coffee cups in many parts of the world with cups made of corn starch. And it is true that billions of disposable cups end up at landfills each year as a result of high street coffee chains choosing to use takeaway cups with plastic lining which are non-recyclable. So far, so good. But the impact of using corn starch --- corn cultivation is known to cause severe soil erosion --- may end up as a self-goal.
The problem is not just the composition of the new, bio-degradable cups but our attitudes towards mass consumption and irresponsible disposing of the waste we generate. Plastic use is a major issue and the coffee chains should be applauded for at least trying to address the damage caused to the environment by its widespread use. But we cannot replace one problematic material with another on ‘lesser of two evils’ grounds. Consumerism is here to stay given modern lifestyles so it is responsible consumers who are the need of the hour.