Easy ways to live a more sustainable life - Tip 2 - Reusable coffee cups

Hi, I am an ordinary bloke, not a typical ecowarrior, just someone who has taken a good look at himself and his business and thought I must do better!

I am looking at positive changes that I can make to reduce my own personal waste footprint. In particular I am looking at the logic behind the decisions and positive knock on effects. I love WIN-WINS in life so that’s what I’m looking for, WINS for me and for the wider environment.

This is the 2nd in a series which will hopefully continue to grow and evolve as I learn more and people share their experiences and ideas.

This article looks at my coffee habit!

Environmental and Sustainability - Tip 2 – Reusable coffee cups

I stop at my favourite coffee shop, Gerties on South Road, Sheffield S6, every morning on the way to work and get a takeout. They use vegware cups. Their 12 oz is completely compostable and their 8 oz is commercially compostable.

In most shops, the cups look really sustainable and eco-friendly in their brown rustic packaging, so I assumed I was doing no harm in the past when these were served to me in various places.

However, as part of my 'life audit' I researched (I googled it) these cups to see if they were actually sustainable and it turns out only 1 in 400 from the main coffee chains is actually recycled! Apparently, it’s the polyethylene lining inside them holds the cup together when it contains hot liquid that prevents them from being processed and destines them to landfill! According to a study published in the Independent we drink 7 million cups a day, 2.5 billion a year in the UK.

So, step 2 is a really simple change. I purchased a thermostatic cup from Luckyberg which are the higher end of the market at £11.99 each but last a lifetime and keep the coffee at exactly the temperature you want.

There are now 260 cups less in landfill.

The WIN-WIN

I generally don’t like to tell people how to live but that’s not a tricky one! Some places will even give you a discount of around 30p, that’s £78 a year based on a cup a day. That’s a decent meal out for 2 even after the cost of the flask.

Other manufacturers are available, I found a company called rcup which recycles coffee cups and turns them into new reusable cups, a concept known as the circular economy. Although this is a great idea, the practicality of getting people to dispose of their waste in the correct bins is always going to be difficult and recycling always takes up energy and resources.

An article in the Independent gives the 10 best reusable coffee cups.

I do prefer the idea that coffee shops are forced to use a more sustainable solution or customers are massively incentivised to bring their own cups. For me, a lifelong, reusable thermo cup is this answer. Maybe coffee shops could even provide these cups for a returnable deposit. 

Summary

A really simple change that saves me money, is no real hardship, other than making sure I’m more organised. It’s a change we can all make quite easily, so maybe we should……

Ease rating 1.5 (1 being easy to adopt 5 being hard)

Total savings from changes so far:

  1.        Cold Showers = 464kw/hours and £68 per year
  2.        Using own Coffee cup = 260 less cups into landfill and £78 per year

Total money saved so far:

  • £146 per annum

Next change: Cycling to work!

A quick plug for what my business, we create WIN-WIN scenarios for organisations, reducing paper towel waste, costs and the associated carbon footprint. A study showed that 2 paper towels produce 15 grams of Co2, our hand dryers can reduce each dry to as little as 1 gram of co2 and save 98% cost. We help organisations finance the initial investment out of the savings, so there is no budget to be found. A complete win-win for your bottom line and the environment.


Andy needs your tips. Let us know in the comments what you have been doing so that we can look at trying them out as a team.

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Written by: Andrew Cameron

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