Why normalising reusable coffee cups is important

Sometimes normalising something is as simple as putting it on T.V.

When the ABC series War on Waste aired its episode about the scourge of disposable coffee cups, millions of people were spurred into action.  Reusable coffee cups went from something you saw occasionally to being the norm. 

Reusable coffee cup manufactures saw huge increases in inquiries and sales. Keep Cup reported a 400% increase in sales in the months after the episode aired. Other companies such as Frank Green, JOCO and Cheeki also saw substantial increases in sales. 

As you walk through cities and towns it is now normal to see people sipping their morning coffee out of their own reusable coffee cup. Many cafes even offer discounts for people who bring their own reusable cup.

People aren’t only using reusable cups either. It is now perfectly normal to see awesome humans bringing their own mugs and even jars down to the local coffee shop.  Any vessel will do. 

Did you know that bringing your own reusable cup is now so normal that there are some cafes that no longer provide disposable cups at all?  

Disposable coffee cups

Despite the huge increase in the use of reusable coffee cups, it is estimated that 500 billion disposable coffee cups are manufactured around the world annually.   

This is a problem because disposable coffee cups are generally not recyclable.  This is due to disposable coffee cups having a plastic lining that cannot easily be separated from the paper part of the cup.

Not only does this mean that all that paper and plastic is ending up in landfill, but more plastic is being produced and more trees are being cut down to feed our coffee addiction.   

Why isn’t everyone using a reusable coffee cup?

So what is holding us back from being free of disposable coffee cups? Below are the top three reasons we hear from people who aren’t using a reusable cup and some simple solutions. 

Reason 1: I have a reusable cup, but I forgot it.

Solution: Make remembering your reusable cup a habit by consciously setting a reminder until it becomes automatic and you never leave home without it – just like remembering your phone.

Reason 2: My reusable cup is dirty.

Solution: Wash it, or at least rinse it out. It really is that simple. 

Reason 3: I haven’t gotten around to getting a reusable cup yet.

Solution: Use a mug from home, or an old jar.  Remember when it comes to coffee, reusable is the norm now – there is no judgement.    

In an coffee emergency

While reusable it best, it is understandable that there may be just one occasion where the world has conspired against you and there was no way you could have your reusable cup with you.  There are a few options:

  1. Drink your coffee at the coffee shop.
  2. Don’t to get a coffee that day (a risky suggestion for those of you who can’t live without your morning coffee).
  3. If you have a dedicated coffee cup recycling program near you, you could get the disposable cup and deposit it at the recycling drop-off point.

Simply Cups is one of the first coffee cup recycling programs in the world, so only a very fortunate few will be able to choose option three. While refusing the single use option is always the best, these recycling programs are great for when you find yourself in a real coffee emergency. 

Why we take action

By refusing the single use item and using a reusable coffee cup we reduce demand for the production of more single use items and show others how easy it is to make small changes towards a more sustainable future.  Many coffee shops also offer a discount when you bring your reusable cup, so you get cheaper coffee.  If you buy five coffees per week at a coffee shop offering a 50c discount, you could save $130 per year.

How we can take action  

  • Remember to take your reusable cup, mug, jar or cylindrical vessel when you go and get a coffee.
  • Support coffee shops that offer discounts for people that bring their reusable cup and get yourself cheaper coffee.  
  • If you forget your reusable cup, sit and enjoy your coffee at the coffee shop.