Lukas Hauser

Paper Cups and our Throw-Away Society

21 Nov 2016

Pollution Everywhere

Surfing is one of my passion. I love the stoke that I get from riding waves and find it amazing how I can connect with nature. It allows me to switch off from the everyday hustle and bustle while my mind is focused only on surfing. I am one with the beautiful nature that surrounds me.

Too often though, that serene environment is disturbed by trash. There’s bottles and all other kinds of plastics on the beaches and floating in the ocean. I find it disgusting how humans pollute their surroundings. It leaves the impression that we don’t care about the harm we cause to our environment and the wild animals that often can’t distinguish between food and plastic. We buy stuff, use it and throw it away out of convenience. Plastic bottles, take-away trays, plastic cutlery to name just a few. Even though some of that is recyclable, there is still way too much rubbish ending up at places where it should not.

Paper Cups are NON-recyclable

A paper cup is the perfect symbol of our throw-away society. Its life span is super-short. We buy our coffee in a paper cup with a plastic lid on top. It only takes us around 10 minutes until we drink the last sip and dispose of the rubbish. You might now argue: “Dude, the cup is made of paper, so it’s recyclable!” Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Inside the cup, there’s a layer of polyethylene to seal it. This layer cannot be separated from the card at a standard recycling mill. Therefore, tons of paper cups end up in landfills. In the UK it is 2.5 billion cups a year. We are creating a waste mountain.

How can this be stopped? Potentially such issues require a regulatory change or an incentive like an additional tax. A recent example was a huge success: Plastic bag use plummets since a 5p charge has been introduced in the UK. Introducing such an incentive is not in my power and coffee companies don’t show any interest to take responsibility. Hence, I ask myself what I can do to improve the situation. I believe that trying to stop using paper cups myself is not a bad start. I prefer enjoying the coffee in the cafe rather than on the go anyway. During a quick coffee break I can read the news, meet someone or catch up on social media. And the coffee tastes better in a ‘real’ cup. However, many people need to join in to actually make an impact. Therefore, I decided to create art that hopefully looks beautiful and at the same time should raise awareness.

About My Artwork

After I neglected one of my passions  for way too long, I’m glad that I’ve finally rediscovered it – my passion for drawing and painting. Since I’ve started my first day job 15 years ago, I’ve hardly dedicated any time to my artistic side. To revive this part of me and to find my own style, I’m currently experimenting with photography, pencil drawing, oil painting and digital art. “Paper Cups and our Throw-Away Society” is one of my first digital creations.

I found the inspiration for my image in pop art. Already Andy Warhol was fascinated by ideas of abundance and the rise in consumer culture and mass production. With consumerism, our throw-away society was born. This is why I found Warhol’s works a great basis for my own project. I used the colours of his painting “Marilyn Diptych 1962”. You might have expected one Warhol’s consumerism works, but I wanted to give paper cups a human touch. When I read the caption of Warhol’s “Marilyn Diptych”, I can draw some parallels to paper cups: “By repeating the image, he evokes her ubiquitous presence in the media.” – Paper cups are widely used at the moment. You see them everywhere. When you ask for a cappuccino at your favourite coffee place, they intuitively serve it in a paper cup.

“The contrast of vivid colour with black and white, and the effect of fading in the right panel are suggestive of the star’s mortality.” – I hope that people will realise what enormous waste mountains we produce and I wish that paper cups will eventually die out.

What is your view? What should everybody do to reduce our waste? Can you think of a solution? I’m also happy to hear your comments on my artwork. I’m planning to create more pieces with the same theme.