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Drinking on the run

going green, ecology
How do you fold a plastic cup?

Has anyone figured out how to fold a plastic cup?

I often run through water stops during a 5K or 10K race. In an effort to try and drink the water instead of wearing it I always pinch the top of the cup. This usually keeps most of the water from splashing out and I can get one or two good gulps.

When I get to a water stop and they are handing out plastic cups this becomes impossible. The rim of a plastic cup is rigid and can’t be bent without breaking the cup.

I’m not the most athletic or coordinated guy on the course, so maybe it’s just me who can’t run and drink from a plastic cup. Has anyone figured out a good way to do this?

Paper, Polystyrene or Plastic Cups?

I poked around the interweb to see if paper cups are any better for the environment than the plastic cups. I read several articles and was surprised to find that paper cups can cost 2.5 times more than plastic cups. The reason is that paper cups consume more resources to be made.

A study by Canadian scientist Martin Hocking shows that making a paper cup uses as much petroleum or natural gas as a polystyrene cup. Plus, the paper cup uses wood pulp. The Canadian study said, ‘The paper cup consumes 12 times as much steam, 36 times as much electricity, and twice as much cooling water as the plastic cup.’ And because the paper cup uses more raw materials and energy, it also costs 2.5 times more than the plastic cup.


So Styrofoam cups use as many resources as paper cups to make, and both use about 2.5 times as many resources to make as plastic cups. This blog post goes on to say that many paper cups cannot be recycled because they are lined with plastic or wax.

From an environmental point of view that seems to be an issue. If the goal is to use fewer resources and have less of an impact on the environment then plastic cups seem to be the best alternative.

From a runners point of view, plastic cups are less than optimal as they are difficult to drink from while running. In the winter when wearing gloves, plastic cups are slippery and difficult to hold onto.

So, what to do?

Here in the Greater Boston Area most of our trash goes to an incinerator. I’m no scientist but I think burning paper with wax is better than burning plastic cups or paper cups lined with plastic.

At home we should all be using glasses to drink from. Not disposable cups or, god forbid, bottles of water. Race directors can help by using un-lined paper cups, which can be recycled and are easier for a runner to drink from.

At a race, most cups only hold water for a very short period of time. There really isn’t an issue with the cup dissolving before a runner grabs it, takes a drink and un-ceremonially tosses it into the road.

drinking on the run, boston marathon
HP Water Stop at the 2006 Boston Marathon

At the Melrose Run for Women, we fill cups from gallon jugs of water. The cups get tossed but we recycle the plastic gallon jugs. At The Hartford Marathon they give each runner a Hartford Marathon water bottle at the end of the race. It is plastic, but because it is a water bottle, it can be used hundreds of times. I still use mine. Hartford also has a huge bubbler that dozens of runners can drink from at the same time.

We make choices every day. If we make better choices, each of us individually can make a difference.

Run well my friends,

Andy, pub-4167727599129474, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0