First the coffee then the work
Happy Friday fabulous people,
I know many of you are coffee drinkers and can't fathom a day without that hit of caffeine that spurs you into action or is your one indulgence of the day. Despite no longer drinking coffee, I still love the beautiful aroma of barista made coffee, a cafe's vibrancy as well as the caramel-creamy colour of a flat white. What I don't miss about needing a fix of barista made coffee are all the choices you need to make at the cafe counter. Trim/full fat milk? decaf or regular? small or large? dine in or takeaway? anything else with that? cash or EFTPOS? I mean to say - you haven't had your coffee yet and they're expecting you to respond when you're thinking 'just-gimme-the-coffee-the-same-as-yesterday-already'.
If you're a takeaway kinda gal/guy you've fielded so many questions already the last thing you want to do is ask what the takeaway cups are made from and how you should dispose of it, right? And, the cup may not matter to you, (so focused you are on the contents) so you may just assume that you'll send the empty cup to landfill.
As sending things to landfill is not what A Lighter Shade of Green is about I've been researching some options for you. The first, best and easiest option is to buy your own reusable coffee cup - they're everywhere, especially in caring cafe's (the types that make really good coffee). Bringing your own cup means a) you can shorten your time at the cafe counter fielding questions from the barista - they won't need to ask what size you want, as it'll be kinda obvious and they'll know your coffee is a takeaway; b) you don't need to ask the barista about the origin of their cups then have more guilt when you find out the answer but send it to landfill anyway; and most importantly, c) you are saving the earth by not filling it with single use takeaway cups.
But wait there's more...by taking your own reusable cup cafes are generally so grateful they won't need to tidy up after you and add more to landfill they give you discounts! So it's good news all round. There are plenty of stylish options online, for example from the global company KeepCup - which sells a huge range of durable cups that you can even personalise with colours & materials.
Personally I think a reusable cup is the only practical option, but I promised above that I'd offer you optionS... so here goes.
There is plenty of confusion about takeaway cups as they are all different: SOME may be made from plants - if your daily fix comes from a caring, environmentally conscious cafe. These types of cups will no doubt say they are compostable. But what that means, in NZ at least, is "commercially compostable" in a couple of special composting plants around the country, or that you can compost the takeaway cup at home, but only in the right composting conditions. If this is what you want to do I'd recommend reading a blog post by ecoware first post as it's really useful.
Because of all this confusion around cups and their lids, in NZ at least, waste minimising experts recommend as a general rule that takeaway cups are put in landfill due to the differing facilities through each district councils and therefore rules, around the composting of them. How awful and confusing is that!?! Other places in the world are better than NZ on this front and may offer much better alternatives, so it's worth chatting to your local cafe, asking friends, checking with your local council or for organisations in your area who want them. Believe me, there are inspiring zero-waste people who can reuse takeaway coffee cups.
Cultivate Christchurch is a fabulous social enterprise in my neck of the woods that actually wants single use takeaway cups (and other PLA packaging) that they add with food waste from inner city eateries to make compost for their organic, urban garden! Their core focus is inspiring and cultivating youth who are not employed/in training/in education by giving them the know-how and community engagement to grow good, organic, healthy food. Super cool - you can read more about them here.
If this sounds like too much hard work, you'll find buying a reusable cup pretty easy, just click here. Then all you need to do is remember it...
Good luck team