This is an issue which has been brewing for a while. Just like coffee, opinions on the cups are heated and strong.
With so many facts and figures on the subject, there is a latte to consider.
Here are the main things:
1. In the UK more than 7 million paper coffee cups are handed out by coffee shops per day and it has been reported in The Guardian that only 0.1% of coffee cups are recycled which equates to about 1 in every 1000 cups!
2. The problem is that although the cups are ‘paper’, they have a special plastic lining which can only be removed by specialist companies (there are only two such companies in the UK) and it means they cannot simply be recycled with other paper items. This means that even if you want to make a good choice by putting your cup in the recycling bin, it more than likely will end up in landfill anyway! (sob sob!)
3. Due to the way they are designed, coffee cups aren’t even made of recycled paper to begin with; they are made from virgin paper pulp. This makes it even more tragic that they are used for such a short amount of time but have a large carbon footprint.
4. Each take away cup takes approximately 20-30 years to break down in landfill. If the plastic lid doesn’t get recycled it will take approximately 400 years to degrade.
You can read about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s investigation about our crazy cup consuming habits here:
Wanting to filter through the facts, the main thing I can take away from reading about cups is that I don’t want to contribute to the crazily scary number of coffee cups buried in landfill.
Is it easier said than done?
Well I will fully admit that the Costa and Starbucks Christmas cups are SO CUTE AND PRETTY but what isn’t pretty is the thought of those cups ending up in landfill – even if I put them in the recycling bin!
I am well aware that it’s ‘a thing’ to get your name written on your take away cup. I remember laughing my head off last December when I told the cashier my name was ‘Mary… Mary Christmas’ and I joyfully snapped a pic of my coffee cup for Facebook and Instagram. Is the handwriting questionable and hard to read? Of course it is!! And it’s probably done on purpose too so I’m even more likely to post a picture of my cup on social media exclaiming how funny it is, which will end up on some random Buzzfeed list of ’25 hilarious names on Starbucks coffee cups’! Without really thinking, I’m promoting the coffee companies on social media and supporting them! I’d much rather be supporting an environmentally friendly alternative instead.
Realising that the coffee companies like Starbucks, Costa and Café Nero aren’t going to be changing their cup production/recycling habits any time soon, I needed to take control and make a change in my own habits (it’s better latte than never!)
Ellie and I have both invested in reusable coffee cups. The cup company is called ecoffee. They are made from sustainable bamboo, have only recyclable cardboard packaging and come in many beautiful patterns! As well as being available to buy online, you can buy them in Bristol from IOTA on Gloucester Road and The BlueBird Tea Co. on Park Street.
Did I feel like a mug using my new cup?
Well I did feel weird handing over my own cup when ordering a take-away drink for the first time but actually the cashier didn’t make me feel awkward at all. Luckily, it has become more ‘acceptable’ to bring your own cup and some places even offer a discount off your drinks if you bring your own reusable cup – result!
Through this post I have been able to espresso my feelings on the subject and it is something I feel really passionate about. Here are the simple 3 steps to crack down on the cups:
1. Invest in a fabulous reusable coffee cup.
2. Don’t forget to take the lovely reusable coffee cup with you – eg keep it at work, in the car, in your bag.
3. Enjoy your wonderful hot drink! (You can even have your cold smoothie/iced frappe in your reusable cup too!)
Love Lucy x