Funded! This project was successfully funded on September 27, 2012.

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Who made this humble-yet-sacred chalice such a ubiquitous part of our disposable world? And why'd they do it? Our film will find out.

Behold: The simple Red Solo Cup!

It's just a plastic cup used to fill (and probably spill) the beverage of your choice. But it's more than that: It's a timeworn receptacle used to mark life's milestones. Childhood pizza party! Clandestine high-school kegger! Awkward office holiday celebration! 

Where did this anonymous, ubiquitous piece of our modern environment come from? It didn't evolve: The Red Solo cup is part of our world because someone -- many someones -- designed it, built it, and chose it. Who are those people? What is the chain of human individuals, and their decisions, behind the Red Solo Cup?

With "I, Party Cup" filmmaker John Pavlus (Slate, NPR, Wired, The New York Times) joins Grist in exploring the genealogy of the Red Solo Cup. Through interviews, investigation, and riveting head-to-head beer pong footage, he will fill in some of the family tree behind casual America's chalice of choice -- and take a glimpse forward at what happens to this goblet, and to us, when we throw it out.

Why? Well, because we’re curious. And maybe because the Red Solo Cup is a metaphor for the choices of our disposable past -- a lipstick-hued demonstration of a profound principle: Every choice we make (even the invisible ones) and every thing we bring into the world (even the completely mundane ones) has an impact. And everything about our world is built, decided, chosen -- not by anonymous, invisible "someones," but by you, me, and everyone we know.

What we'll use the money for:

It's not glamorous, but it is a fact: production expenses. This project would be easier, cheaper, and a lot less interesting if we already knew exactly where (and who) this trail of bread crumbs behind the red party cup would lead to. But we don't! So we'll be using your pledges to support things like research and travel (who knows, maybe the person who decided how many rings the cup has lives on the other side of the country), as well as meat-and-potatoes stuff like equipment, crew, and postproduction. We want to make something you'll be proud you helped support, not something full of cut corners.

This also means that if we're lucky enough to *surpass* our funding goal, that money will continue going "up on the screen," as a Hollywood mogul might put it. Maybe we'll be able to create some really cool animations or timelapse shots. Or license Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup" and have They Might Be Giants do a cover version of it for the soundtrack. (OK, maybe not. But you get the idea.)

Make it a double:

*Your contribution to this documentary will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, in the form of a donation to Grist. A generous, anonymous donor has agreed to match up to $10,000 in contributions; so in addition to backing our project, you'll help us earn support for the crucial independent green news and advice Grist serves up year-round.



Additional Video Credits:


Get a limited edition Grist organic cotton T-shirt!

Pledge $25 or more and we'll send you this sweet organic cotton T-shirt, lovingly hand-packed with recycled shipping materials by a Grist staff member.

You know you want one.
You know you want one.

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    You will get EXCELLENT KARMA. Plus, your contribution will be MATCHED* by an anonymous donor.

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- (21 days)