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Rebecca Oliver and Claire Jones- "Less Impact"
Project Name : Rebecca Oliver and Claire Jones- "Less Impact"
Description : Claire Jones and Rebecca Oliver make the world a better place!
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Claire Jones and Rebecca Oliver - Less Impact Project

A) Throughout the course of this study, we will determine if there is a larger proportion of reusable coffee cups at a chain coffee shop such as Starbucks or a local coffee shop such as the Daily Brew.

B) While disposable coffee cups may seem to be a trite and inconsequential issue, this problem actually causes great environmental harm. In America alone, 16 billion paper coffee cups are used per year, the equivalent of 6.5 million trees[3]. This translates to 253 million pounds of waste a year[1].  In addition, over 4 billion gallons of water are used annually in order to fuel the creation of these coffee cups. Another complication arises from the coating used to prevent leakages from paper cups: polyethylene. While this substance serves a practical purpose, it also inhibits it from being recycled.  Moreover, these cups then take up space in landfills, and as they decompose, they release substantial quantities of the harmful greenhouse gas methane[2].   Several establishments have made note of these concerning facts and have acted accordingly.  Reusable coffee cups are sold in many stores, and have become a growing trend.  Many coffee shops also offer them, and incentives to promote their use.

C) Using the information detailed above in part B, if all 3800 students at Santiago High School transitioned from using nonrenewable paper cups to reusable ones, an average of 193800 cups would be eliminated from landfills and 79 trees would be preserved.  If this new reusable cup plan was expanded to all 152374 people in Corona, 7771074 cups and 3158 trees would be saved.

D) In light of the problems posed by paper cups, we tested whether large coffee corporations would use more of them than "small town" coffee shops.  We hypothesized that indeed conglomerates such as Starbucks would be less environmentally friendly than the little Daily Brew coffee house.  To test this, we spent an hour in each location and observed the amount of people in a random sample of forty individuals that brought their own reusable cups.

  Data Tables:

   Reusable  Non-reusable
 Starbucks  4  36

   Reusable Non-renewable
 Daily Brew  2  38

E) Ho: p1=p2                                    p1: proportion of reusable cups used at Daily Brew
    Ha: p1>p2                                     p2: proportion of reusable cups used at Starbucks

    2-Prop. Z test
    z= -.8489      p=.8020

    Not Significant

    There is no sufficient against Ho.  Therefore, we fail to reject Ho.  We conclude that the proportion of reusable cups at a chain coffee shop such as Starbucks is equal to the proportion of reusable cups at local, small coffee shops.

F) While non-reusable coffee cups are quite detrimental to the environment, there doesn't seem to be one "worse" an offender than others when it comes to the size of the coffee shop involved.  Both are abysmal. Only 10% of the Starbucks sample we observed used reusable cups.  Only 5% of Daily Brew patrons used them.

1. "Recycling Links".  Oberlin. 2012. 22 May 2012. <>
2. "Methane".  Wikipedia. 2012. 22 May 2012. <>
3. "The Basic Problem with Coffee Cups". Sustainability is Sexy. 2012. 22 May 2012.