I love getting festive, so please don't read this post and automatically assume that I'm being a killjoy. However, I am fed up of seeing people raving about Christmas coffee cups every year when disposable cups are adding even more unnecessary waste to the environment. Ironically, many of these people have also watched Blue Planet recently and seen the extent of the damage we are causing.
I dislike disposable cups all year round, but there seems to be a particularly high prevalence of them around Christmas. Yes, you get a nice looking cup, but at what cost to the environment?
1 million disposable coffee cups go to landfill globally every minute. We could all so easily reduce the amount of plastic we use, and switching to reusable cups is a very easy (money-saving!) step we could all take without any hassle.
A lot of coffee cups used nowadays are (debatably) recyclable or biodegradable, but that's not good enough when the option of using reusable cups is so accessible and easy. Even if something will eventually decompose, surely it's better to use something that can be reused rather than using a brand new cup every time? Reusing is always better than recycling.
Fewer than one in every 400 disposable coffees cups in the UK are currently recycled, even when they are put in recycling bins.
We do not need disposable coffee cups, and I think it would be great if one of the big players in the coffee shop industry pledged to only sell reusable cups. We've managed to remember to bring carrier bags everywhere with us (most of the time…), so why can't we do the same with reusable cups?
There has been talk of introducing a 5p levy on disposable coffee cups, but I don't personally think that's enough when you're spending up to £3.00 on a coffee; I believe we should have to purchase a reusable cup if we've forgotten to bring one along with us (Starbucks do one for £1.20 which I think is a lot more realistic to elicit a change in our behaviour!).
A perk of using your own reusable cup is that you get discount in most coffee shops, usually of around 25p per drink; if you consumed just 2-3 cups of coffee per week you could save yourself £26-39 a year. It may not sound like much, but it's free money!
Which reusable cups are worth getting?
I have a Bodum coffee cup and a KeepCup. The Bodum is better for keeping drinks warm for longer, however, you do get that slightly tinny taste which is why I've also invested in a KeepCup. These are the first 'Barista standard' reusable cups and they come in a multitude of varieties. You don't get that odd taste with KeepCups, so in my opinion, these are the winners!
I'm currently working at Exeter University, and there are reusable cups for sale everywhere due to a student campaign; since this started, just the University alone has used 10,000 less disposable cups, and not every student is using a reusable yet (far from it!).
For those of you who can't live without having a special Christmassy cup, I had a quick look on Amazon and couldn't find much (although you can get endless choice of various non-festive patterns), so perhaps this should be something Keep Cup should look into for next year! Has anyone else found some cool Christmas cups? If not, having a cup that looks great all year round is a small sacrifice for making a small difference to the environment.
With the discounts offered for people with reusable cups, making this tiny change will save you money in the long run, and you can get a jazzy cup you'll like all year round!
Another quick Christmas tip:
Use reusable tote bags for putting gifts in instead of wrapping paper; people will save money by using the bags they're gifted to gift others, and it'll minimise how much paper is wasted.
Anyway, I'd be over the moon if even one person pledged to make the switch from disposable to reusable after reading this, please let me know if you have already made the switch or if you're now planning to!