Coffee.. chances are you are drinking a cup while reading this blog, while on a work break in attempt to wake up (it's mid week, it's hard I know!). The smell of coffee can be in itself a great incentive to get out of bed in the morning, and many of us (me included!) are 'coffee addicts'. Hey, I can't even put two words together in the right language before my first cup..
This addiction has helped the proliferation of many coffee chains and the culture of the takeaway coffee, and many of us are in the habit of grabbing a coffee on the way to work, or popping out of the office for one on our morning coffee breaks. Service station have coffee machines, making it easy to grab a coffee while we fuel up the car (we need fuel too, right?!).
But something unifies the coffee chains, the service stations, the little shops allowing us this 'coffee convenience': Disposable coffee cups! They seem innocent, 'it's just cardboard right?' - i hear you ask. Mistake. Coffee cups are NOT recyclable: to ensure they are waterproof the card is fused with polyethylene, that cannot be separated for recycling, moreover the cups are often not even made from recycled material - as the way they are designed means one thin seam of card inside the cup comes into contact with the hot drink, meaning that they have to be made from virgin paper pulp. Hum, think about that. New paper and not about to be recycled. Statistics say 10000 coffee cups gets used in 2 minutes just in the UK! JUST IN THE UK! IN 2 MINUTES! Try scale this to include other coffee addict countries (USA? Other Europe countries drinking take aways?!).
Saying this, I did came across a type of more sustainable cups at the Sea Shed Coffee & Surf: made entirely from plant materials and completely compostable. If you don't use a lid (plastic) you can be sustainable... So - it's possible! Perhaps a little more expensive, but who will pay for the environmental damages that we are doing?
Another, very simple solution, is to use a reusable cup. I am the proud owner of two reusable cups - one that fits in my car cup holder (for those fuel stops! and post surf/adventure warm up needs), and one bigger ones for my everyday needs. Added bonus - i can make my own 'take away' coffee at home saving some money as well!
The benefit of a reusable cup don't just stop at environmental benefit - some companies have incentives for you to bring your own cup so I am gonna give you two example of chains that have incentive scheme and what rewards you will get (valid in UK):
Starbucks: a discount of £0.25 on your drink when you bring your own mug. Which is advantageous. Plus my local starbucks also charges me for a tall (their smaller size, and discounts it) for use in my humongous mug. So a considerable saving overall...
Clements (in NI): double stamps on your loyalty card. You get a free coffee when you reach 10 stamps, if you get 2 stamps at a time... that's half price free coffee!
Other chains such as Costa, Pret-a-manger, Cafe Nero and Paul bakery may have similar schemes, although I am not aware of them as I have not tried to use them personally so I don't want to give wrongful information. But go in and ask, Question your chain of choice on their ethics and what are they doing to ensure they are being as sustainable as possible. If demands for unrecyclable coffee cups decreases, maybe their production will stop.
You have the power to make a difference, no matter how small you act.
So now go buy yourself a pretty reusable mug that will be your daily companion for years to come!
(I have one of the EcoCoffee cup and are amazing!)
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