If you caught Hugh’s War On Waste on the BBC, you will be well aware of the coffee cup problem by now. But if not, here it is: the paper cups used for take away coffee, is not in fact, made out of paper. Well, not just paper. To make the cup waterproof, the paper is lined with plastic. Basically what this means is that “paper” cups are not recyclable. It’s estimated that 7 million of these cups get wasted EVERY DAY in the UK alone. Picture that gigantic mountain of cups… there’s got to be a better way.
We could try and develop cups that are easier to recycle (it is currently being researched), but making a cup, to recycle it, to make a new cup, uses a lot more energy than have one cup that you can wash and use again straight away.
I bought a reusable coffee cup about a year ago and I love it. Of course, I don’t always remember to have it with me, but if I know there is a chance I’m going to grab a coffee on the way to work, I’ll put it in my bag. So far I have never had a coffee shop say no when I’ve asked if they could use my cup, I think they are beginning to expect it which is great. A lot of coffee shops sell them and Starbucks knocks 25p off your coffee if you use your own cup. Obviously you can be forgiven for not taking it with you everywhere you go, but every cup saved helps.
What I find more worrying though, is places where you can sit down to have your coffee, but they automatically put it in a take away cup, or worse, when they don’t even have normal cups at all. What owner of a coffee shop doesn’t have cups? I’m trying my best to avoid these places until they wake up and smell the climate change.
If you’re looking for an amazing reusable coffee cup, I love mine. It’s from the wonderful people at Surfers Against Sewage and is made from Bamboo, a pretty sustainable material.