Opinion: Not a Stan for the Stanley Cup

2 mins read

The Stanley Cup. A 40 oz, stainless steel quencher that comes in a variety of colors and sizes rose to it-girl status in 2022 and has become ubiquitous since.  However, upon closer inspection, this cup and the ensuing craze seems oddly familiar—we’ve seen the Stanley before, just under different names. The S’well bottles in the late 2010s. The Hydro Flask craze of 2019. Yeti water bottles in 2021. Every couple of years, a new bottle becomes inescapable, found in every classroom, every cup holder, every store, and every corner of the internet. The Stanley is the newest addition.

The original purpose of these cups, to reduce waste, has been subverted. In fact, the exact opposite is occurring.

The cup has been marketed as a reusable water bottle, which creates the perception that by buying and using one—or multiple—Stanleys, waste is being reduced. However, just because something has been characterized as reusable does not automatically mean it is good for the environment. According to the New York Times, a stainless steel bottle takes fourteen times the amount of greenhouse gasses to produce as a plastic bottle does and uses hundreds of natural metals found from the Earth. For people that own these bottles, this means that they must use these cups enough times to compensate for the environmental damages of its creation for it to actually benefit the planet.

While most people do use these bottles more than 14 times, when these bottles eventually become irrelevant and are discarded, it creates excess waste.

The Stanley, in particular, stands out among these formerly popular bottles. The comical enormity of the cup has become a running joke on the internet, being the subject of various memes and even a Saturday Night Live skit. The sheer size means the cup is incredibly heavy, a fault only exacerbated by the one sided handle, which puts a remarkable amount of strain on one’s wrist. The cup also has major leakage issues—when knocked over, water will spill all over, unlike an actual water bottle with a closed lid. Beyond this, the cup is incredibly unhygienic—it features an open straw that constantly knocks into foreign objects and accumulates bacteria throughout the day. Recently, it has been discovered the sealing agent in the cups contain lead, a highly poisonous substance known to affect brain development and lower IQ. This lead will only leech into the water if the bottom of the cup is damaged, but, considering how often these cups are dropped, that is not a far-fetched scenario. Despite this, the Stanley has not been recalled, and continues to retail in thousands of stores. 

The mass purchasing of these cups nods to a larger societal trend; since the advent of social media apps like TikTok and Instagram, trends have been cycling faster than ever before. When a product or brand goes viral, it is bought in masses, but then, once everyone owns it, it is seen as basic, or outdated, and another item will rise to popularity. In an attempt to avoid this, influencers will introduce new styles and abandon those popular, trending items at their peak, which only causes the cycle to speed up. The high cost of buying such large amounts of clothes and other items just to throw them out in a couple of months or keep buying more had led to the rise of fast-fashion companies like Shein, which mass produce poor-quality clothing for cheap prices that allow consumers to keep up with microtrends, and result in millions of pounds of clothes and accessories landing in landfills every year.

Our devotion to trendiness is corrupting fashion’s original purpose: self-expression. When people follow trend cycles so incredibly closely, their sense of style and personal identity is diminished, as they are literally just wearing what they are told to, and what everyone else is wearing—like a uniform.

 Whether it’s in a few weeks, months, or years, these tumblers will eventually become obsolete and be exiled to the back of kitchen cabinets, doomed to collect dust until they are finally sent to a landfill.

Becca is a sophomore at M-A in her first year of journalism. She enjoys writing about events impacting the M-A community and hopes to write more pop-culture based articles and opinion pieces. In her free time, she enjoys baking and spending time with friends.

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