When you think of Canada, what comes to mind? Hockey? Being polite? Saying “eh” after every sentence? I’d bet my money on most Canadians associating a warm cup of Tim Hortons coffee with their country.

The reality is that Tim Hortons is, and has been since its opening in 1964, a staple of Canadian living. With close to 4,000 locations across the Great White North, this multi-billion dollar corporation is Canada’s largest food chain. Over two billion cups of coffee are served by Canadian Tim Hortons franchises annually. That’s a lot of coffee!

It’s expected that a substantial amount of that coffee is purchased during their annual “Roll Up the Rim to Win” event, a time in which overconsumption is encouraged in the off chance of winning a prized Jeep Compass … In actuality most people are only lucky enough to win a free donut. Where do all those beverage cups get disposed? In the recycling? Think again.

The unfortunate truth is that, in most cases, Tim Hortons cups are not recyclable. Their plastic lids are too flimsy to be recycled, and the fate of the cups themselves rests in the municipality at hand. The majority of municipalities consider the separation of paper cup from inner plastic liner too tedious, and so the cup of your beloved coffee is likely lying at the bottom of a landfill. The KW Region, for example, does not recycle the cup. An experience I had in Lucknow, Ontario, where there were no recycling bins at all within the establishment, suggests that smaller municipalities may neglect recycling issues altogether. Worse still, it becomes increasingly apparent that people are unaware of this lack of recyclability. Cups are chucked absentmindedly into recycling bins, giving a false impression of environmentally friendly behaviours.

As a proud Canadian, it’s difficult to sit here and let a beloved, patriotic corporation like Tim Hortons indulge in environmentally unsustainable actions. Sustainability is now as much a part of Canada’s legacy as Tim Hortons. Therefore, a concerted effort needs to be made to unite the two, both through individual actions and changes by the corporation.

You have the power to make a change. Opt for reusable mugs over non-recyclable ones (Tim Hortons will accept them, and even give you a 10 cent discount off your purchase when you go reusable!). Or make coffee at home and re-evaluate the significance of an event like Roll Up The Rim. Tim Hortons also needs to be held responsible for their actions. A petition created by four UW students hopes to gain momentum in advocating for Tim Hortons to make simple, innovative changes towards a higher degree of sustainability within their products. Sign the petition at www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/914/506/571/ to be a part of the change!

Nobody hates Timmies, nor should they, because the food chain is a part of our Canadian identity. But with sustainability at the forefront of priority for many it becomes crucial for influential companies, such as Tim Hortons, to lead by example towards a greener future. Through our voices and by raising awareness of the issue, we can reach out to Tim Hortons and let them know that unsustainable cups are not Canadian, eh!


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