New Plastic Alternative Fails to Solve Waste Issue

Illustration by Cameron Morgan

By Kirstie Pena

It’s no secret that environmental issues are on the forefront of the nation’s agenda. From the energy saving LED light bulbs to water-conserving Brita filters, environmental focus has permeated our consumer culture. Now, the Boston-based burrito chain Boloco has jumped on the bandwagon. Anyone who orders a smoothie, soda, or drink of water from Boloco will receive the following message with their beverage: “This cup grew up in Blair, Nebraska. It’s made entirely of corn.”

Since releasing its corn cups, Boloco has garnered recognition for its forward thinking environmentalism. Time to fill up these corn cups with booze and celebrate. Oh, and after, we’ll create a colossal pile of trash and dump the whole mess in the garbage. Great solution.

Yeah, these bad boys may completely decompose in less than 150 days under commercial composting conditions, but we’re creating waste nonetheless. We shouldn’t be making new kinds of plastic when we’re still throwing away thousands of tons of its older model on a daily basis.

Although people have focused more on being eco-friendly, we’re clearly doing a half-hearted job. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the amount of waste has increased from less than 1 percent in 1960 to 12 percent in 2008 and keeps growing.

Rather than spending so much time, energy, and money creating little biodegradable corn packages, we should focus on reducing waste created by packaging. It may seem unrealistic at first, but long-term solutions should include laws that will limit the amount of trash thrown away. After the limit is passed, the offending company should either pay a fine or develop strategies that reduce the amount of waste created. Laws should also force consumers to bring their own reusable to-go containers wherever they order fast food. I mean, it works in Ernie Davis.

People who consider themselves environmentally aware should analyze their actions and see if they’re actually making smart decisions or just jumping on the latest environ-trend designed to guiltlessly burn through plastics. So the next time you give yourself a pat on the back for drinking out of a cup made of corn, consider ditching the cup altogether. Instead, grab your “Syracuse University Food Services” water bottle from freshman year—you still have that, right?

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