- Reusable water bottles are better for the environment than disposable single-use plastic.
- Unless, of course, you buy 67 Stanley cups.
- In that case, you might as well just whisper insults to a sea turtle, sksksks.
I have bad news for those who valiantly fought in the trenches of the Target aisles for a limited-edition pink Stanley Quencher cup, the workers fired over hoarding the cups, the woman in California arrested after shoplifting an entire trunk full of Stanley cups, and for the teen whose parents spent $3,000 on Stanleys.
It turns out that owning a bajillion metal water bottles is not, in fact, good for the environment.
Shocking, I know.
Using reusable drink containers like a $45 Stanley Quencher is, in theory, better than using a bunch of disposable plastic water bottles. But the impact of manufacturing a stainless steel cup is significant, so you really need to use that cup a lot to make it worthwhile.
According to The New York Times:
[The Stanley] trend is also an example of how a growing universe of eco-conscious products — things originally marketed to be sustainable — can morph into a catalyst for simply buying more, potentially canceling out environmental benefits. Entranceways have become cluttered with totes meant to save us from the scourge of single-use plastic bags. Cupboards are accumulating odd gadgets, like collapsible steel straws or reusable food containers, meant to cut down on the single-use kind. "The point of a reusable mug is that, theoretically, you only need one. And you're replacing dozens or even hundreds of single-use cups with that one reusable mug," said Sandra Goldmark of Columbia University's Climate School. But if a person buys lots of those mugs, "you've got a lot of water-drinking to do," she said, to make up for the environmental impact of manufacturing them.
Of course, this gets even hairier when you consider that Stanley cups have peaked in trendiness, and are now the domain of middle schoolers. (The older Gen Z cool kids have moved on to Owala bottles.) A stainless steel mug is good if you're going to use it for many years — not a few months before moving into the next fad.
The takeaway — at least environmentally: one Stanley cup is good. Many Stanley cups … not so good.