The Disposable Coffee Cup Problem
Disposable coffee cups are difficult to get rid of because of a lining of polyurethane inside the paper cups which makes them water proof and also able to hold your drink. They can’t be dealt with at conventional recycling facilities but require specialized technology to recycle. Disposing of such waste in the marine environment results in micro-chips which can make their way up the food chain onto your dinner plate. The disposable coffee cup disaster can be solved in such a way that also purges your cluttered kitchen cabinets. It’s win-win for all!
Imagine if you could go into a coffee shop, get your delectable latte in a china mug, and then walk out the door and head on your way. This is what a cafe in Ipswich, England, has opted to do. Instead of disposable coffee cups, which generate obscene amounts of waste worldwide, La Tour Cycle Cafe has opted to use ceramic mugs — even if that means customers take them away. Supply does not appear to be a concern.
A Creative Solution
Employee Anna Matthews told the BBC in a short video, “We’ve all got mugs languishing in our cupboards that we no longer need, so why not donate them to your local coffee shop, and allow people to actually have a hot drink in a china cup while they walk around?”
People in Ipswich can donate their unwanted mugs to the cafe for others to use. There is a basket out front where customers can leave donations or return mugs they took before. This gesture coincides with the growing popularity of purging unnecessary belongings from one’s home. Plus, it’s a great way to get any silly, quirky mugs that one may have outgrown back into circulation.
This solution to a complex global problem is simple. We don’t need to be manufacturing and buying expensive insulated coffee mugs designed especially for sipping on the go. Neither do we need to focus on investing in recycling infrastructure to be able to separate the various components of a disposable plastic cup. Our municipalities don’t even need to invest in a special hard-plastic reusable mug that requires a deposit, like the much-touted coffee cup in Freiburg, Germany. It’s not that these things are unnecessary, it’s just that they can be made less relevant by simply using a china mug.
To solve the coffee cup waste problem, we already have what we need in our own cupboards and thrift stores. There are probably more than enough superfluous china mugs floating around England right now to keep every coffee shop in business, particularly if regular goers return the ones they’ve used. Sure, there is greater potential for mess with a china cup than a lidded plastic cup, but that’s a small price to pay. Throw an extra shirt in your bag in the morning and take extra care while sipping.
Congratulations La Tour Cycle Cafe, for making this your new standard. Hopefully other cafes will follow your admirable lead.
Image by Thinkstock
Bio - Jacqueline Cameron
Jacqueline Cameron is a writer with decades of writing experience running the gamut from blogging to policy documents. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica and is the chief writer for the Jamaica So Nice Blog. She has Masters’ Degrees in the fields of engineering and management from McMaster University and University of Pennsylvania respectively. Jacqueline loves to see people transformed through her work.