I took the boys to see "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" on Saturday at our favorite local theater, Cinemark. The prices are much lower than other theaters in the area, they offer weekly concession stand coupons, and the bathrooms are smartly placed.


When we walked into the theater, I noticed an advertisement for a refillable beverage cup. For $6, you can purchase a large cup and refill it as many times as you want until Dec. 31, 2012, for $3. Considering that a large soda costs more than $5, it's a significant savings during the year if you go to the movies frequently.


It's not just the monetary savings that has me liking this idea, though. When we go to the movies as a family, we buy one soda for all of us — one large soda with no ice. When it's gone, it's gone. We don't buy a second one. What I like about this idea is that if we go to the movies two or three times a month (which is typical), we'll only be using one cup instead of well over a dozen of them between now and the end of the year, assuming we don't lose the cup or forget to bring it. If every family or individual did that, the amount of trash generated would be significantly lowered.


I don't know if Cinemark is the first theater to offer this, but I wrote about having this option at the movie theaters four years ago on A Little Greener Every Day. I had seen "Wall-E," and I found the amount of concession stand trash generated from a single viewing of the movie to be ironic considering the environmental message in the movie.


"Here's what I would like to see. I would like to see some company create durable, reusable cups with lids for fountain style sodas that are clearly marked with the amount they can hold. Find the common sizes that fountain soft drinks are offered in at movie theaters (and convenience stores), and create a line of cups based off of that. Do the same with some sort of container to hold popcorn, too.


"Then I would like to see the movie theaters allow their customers to bring these in to be filled for their drinks and snacks instead of putting them in disposables."


Fast-forward four years, and Cinemark is doing something like that. It would be nice if the cups didn't expire at the end of the year, but it's a start. According to Cinemark's Facebook page, the company also offered reusable popcorn tubs in 2010. I'll have to find out if they still do that.


It's little, practical solutions like this that give me hope that businesses are making an effort to try to reduce their environmental impact. Movie theaters go through a ton of disposable beverage cups and popcorn tubs every day. It makes sense to offer reusable containers. Consumers have a responsibility in making something like this work, too. They need to embrace these options and make an effort to remember to bring their containers back to the theater. If they don't, the theaters will have no incentive to keep trying ideas to reduce the environmental impact.


Have you seen reusable, refillable containers offered at the movie theater? Have you bought any and did you remember to bring it back?


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Brilliant idea: Reusable beverage cups at the movies
Cinemark offers durable cups that can be brought back and refilled at a discount. It's little, practical solutions like this that give me hope that businesses a