Monday, 11 June 2018

An Easy Switch - A Big Impact

I did not become a regular coffee drinker until recently. I mostly had a cappuccino at work if I felt like it, but for the most part takeaway coffee was usually only once in a while. However this has changed in the last year or so. There's a lovely cafe outside my gym and the smell of freshly roasted beans always lures me in after my workout. And then started my morning ritual of grabbing a coffee after gym and heading to work. For most Australians, having a coffee every day on their commute to work, going for meetings, etc. is extremely common. You'd be guaranteed to see busy commuters holding a cup of coffee from Starbucks or a local coffee shop while walking on George Street every morning.

Australians use 1 billion coffee cups each year. That is a LOT of cups. Is it sustainable? Most definitely not. Are there easy ways to reduce this waste? Most definitely yes.

Reusable coffee cups can be found quite easily in homeware stores around Australia. I prefer the brand KeepCup as their cups are quite high quality and come in various fun colours. But there are many other brands that you could easily choose from. Below are my cute KeepCups. I carry them while going to work, while going shopping (cause you never know when you might crave a coffee), they're pretty much in my handbag all the time.

I am not without fault. There are times when I forget. And that's okay. The important thing is to take the first step towards doing better. My good friend suggested that if you forget your reusable cup, you always have the choice of drinking your coffee inside the cafe in their ceramic cups - and that's always nice and relaxing.

The problem is that most people are aware of reusable cups but still don't think it's important enough to invest in them. There could be several factors responsible for this.
  • Unawareness. People don't know the extent to which coffee cups have become a problem. Consider this -they are the second largest contributor to waste after plastic bottles. 
  • Miscommunication. People think they are already doing right. Nearly all the takeaway coffee cups have a recyclable sign on it. But which part of the coffee cup is the sign referring to? If the sign is on the lid, it may just be referring to the lid, not the entire cup. Most coffee cups are not recyclable. This is due to the plastic lining inside the paper cup. Recycling rules vary from council to council - so you are better off not using them at all. 

  • Just actually not caring. Had to include this cause there is a vast majority of companies and consumers in this category. Most cafes and hotels are well versed with the problem of waste. Despite this I find they are not making any effort whatsoever to reduce this. For instance, I stayed at a hotel in Melbourne earlier this year. When we ordered some coffees to our room, all of them came in takeaway cups. This made no sense to me as they could have easily used the ceramic cups when delivering coffees to rooms? Oh well. I left this feedback while checking out. I will have to stay there again to see if they've made any changes.
Okay so they're not all bad. I was heartened to see this movement pick up in Australia - Basically participating cafes are offering discounts to consumers who bring their own reusable cups. How awesome is that! We need more measures like this to encourage behaviour change. You can look up if your cafe is participating through their map You're instantly saving money AND doing your bit for the environment. Go you!


  1. Great post Didi! I had no idea that only the lid and the sleeves were recyclable. I mostly drink coffee at home, but this is such a great reminder about the waste of coffee cups. It also reminds me of this video I watched yesterday about how bad straws are for the environment and how we can work to eliminate our straw waste too.

  2. Hi Meghana! Thanks for reading! Yes you are right, straws are a big problem too - thanks for sharing the link :)