I’ve been wandering how to recycle a few items lately. Styrofoam is one of those items that I’m never sure what to do with.

Styrafoam Coffee Cup

Black plastic food containers are another one. If you live in Los Angeles, the Dept. of Public Works can supply tips on what you can recycle and also how to give a new life to things un-wanted.

My green friend Courtney and I discovered a recent LA Public works ad campaign that suggests that it’s now ok to put Styrofoam in your recycling bin. You can even dial “311” from any phone to get the details. If you forgot your own cup and looking for a way to keep caffeine withdrawal to a minimum, the word on the street is to use paper over foam any chance you get, though. (Jump cut to images of cooler pieces and flip flops washing up on pristine white sand beaches in Thailand).

HowCanIRecycleThis.com opens up the discussion to it’s viewers. Tapping in to crowd-sourcing for finding recycling solutions seems like an amazingly elegant answer. This UK site does a great job of helping visitors think of ways to re-purpose certain items. Still don’t know what to do with pesky Styrofoam…

Then I found American Chemistry. While this site green washes certain ugly chemical products, it does offer valuable local resources for responsibly handling those plastics I’ve been wandering about.

Tree Hugger does it again in this article about dealing with foam recycling. Grinning Planet also offers foam cup facts. Cooking in foam can be toxic. Who knew?


Not all cups are created equal. According the Institute of Lifecycle Environmental Assessment
a reusable cup must be used a certain number of times to make up for the energy used to create it.

Reusable vs. Disposable Cups

The chart shows how you must use a ceramic mug 39 times to make it more efficient than a paper disposable cup. Read a full article about this at Make Magazine online.

This chart though doesn’t address things like these vessel’s impact on the planet once they break or are thrown away. The disposable cups take up more space in landfills and cannot be recycled like the reusable cups. I find myself using my steel and plastic reusable mugs at more than coffee shops. I get some strange looks at restaurants where they automatically just give you a disposable cup. I use it as an opportunity to say, “No thanks I don’t want a disposable cup because they come from trees/oil.”