A good time that’s good for the planet!
Plastic Solo cups have been around for a while, and I am sure that we can all agree, are a key ingredient to any sort of college party. However, these cups come with a serious environmental cost and are piling up in landfills all over the world. It is so unnecessary for a game of beer-pong or flip cup to be environmentally unfriendly, and thanks to Fette Cups, they don’t have to be. The new and exciting brand – only created in 2021, offers a perfect alternative to the thousands of polluting, traditional red cups that are purchased and disposed of every day. Created from biodegradable, compostable material, Fettes offer the next best thing to re-usable cups. I feel that the company could be more transparent on where exactly the cups are made and on their production process. However, overall, they are a really great, sustainable and small business that you should definitely support. Although, please do try use your cup more than once for that extra sustainability!
Fette cups are made up of polyethylene terephthalate (PLA), which although is still a plastic (No1 plastic), is 100% commercially compostable. This means that the cups can be composted in a controlled environment i.e. an industrial composting factory. PLA is made from corn and therefore, not only are Fette cups plant-based, but they break down in about 40 to 60 days and produce 50% less CO2 than traditional plastic cups! Normal red solo cups are made up of No6 plastic which is chemically the same as Styrofoam and is therefore very tricky to recycle. It is also toxic to humans and animals and it has been found to act as a neurotoxin and a possible carcinogen, which is simply unacceptable. Thus, whilst the creation of new materials is always going to have some environmental cost and require resources like water and energy, I am impressed with the materials that Fette uses and I can see that they are a much more sustainable and safer option than traditional red solo cups.
Fette is a direct-to-consumer brand that hand delivers their cups to people on college campuses at Brown, Yale and Duke Universities. At the moment, it is a small enterprise, however, the co-owners plan to widen their horizons by slowly introducing their products to more schools across the USA. Whilst it seems like Fette has a relatively small reach – a study at Northwestern University found that an average fraternity uses 300-400 cups per party/event. With an average of 16 events per quarter, a single fraternity can throw away 13,500 to 36,000 cups per year! Thus, even at 3 universities, Fette cups can make a difference!
As mentioned above, their cups are made to be composted or recycled and the company has pledged to educate their consumers on proper recycling practices to help them make sure that their cups are properly disposed of, as well as other plastic products. This is important as a relatively small amount of sorting takes place at recycling plants and if a non-recyclable material end up in the mix, all the materials get sent to the landfill. It is clear that sustainability is at the core of the company, and it seems as though Fette is serious about their move away from the use of No6 plastic and the toxins that come with it. Whilst the cost of Fette cups is a few dollars more than regular Solo cups , the greater sustainability they offer is well worth it in my opinion. According to research done by the founders – other college students say the same, which is exciting.
What’s really cool is that the cups are made to be inclusive and are advertised as cups for all – whether it’s for a party or a chilled night in. In addition to this, by being transparent, the cups are actually made to try and keep people safe. The company states that the cups’ transparency helps to tackle the huge amount of sexual assault that is taking place on college campuses around America. Many incidents are as a result of drink-related assaults (spiked drinks, date rape, etc). Whilst Fette cups acknowledge that they cannot singularly prevent any of these incidents from occurring, they believe that being able to see inside of your cup and knowing what you are drinking is an important first step.
The cups are made to be used once. This was decided by the co-founders who found through research at Brown University that students wanted single use cups. This is inherently unsustainable, and simply prolonging the life of the cups that people already own would be a much better option. However, given that students are continuing to use the cups just once, it is better that they can be disposed of in a more environmentally friendly way. Accordingly, the company acknowledges on their website that they are not aiming to completely eradicate plastic waste – as this is a much bigger task. Rather they are trying to move away from No6 plastic. I appreciate Fette’s transparency on their goals – however I feel like the company could do more to encourage people to get more use out of the cups that they buy. There is also no information on how the cups are actually made or the resources that are used in the production process e.g. water and energy. I know that the company is still new and developing, however I think this is important information to know as a consumer.
Fette was co-founded by two Brown University students, Priya Mittal and Olivia Tulkoff. The company is female, POC and queer run and as the founders state, Fette is a company that is focused on bringing people in rather than pushing people out. Since they began, the company has partnered with inspiring LGBTQIA+ organisations like OUT whose mission is “to provide a platform for co-creating climate resilience and environmental justice by and for LGBTQIA+ communities.” They also fundraise for other climate-related NGO’s like “this is zero hour’ which I think is really awesome as they are educating their consumers at the same time. In my opinion, Fette seems to be run by some really awesome and inspiring women! However, one thing I can’t find information on is exactly where the cups are produced and by who. The website states that they are made domestically, but that is all we know. As the company grows, information like this will be important to disclose.