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Five Alternatives to Disposable Coffee Cups

My previous post about Hugh’s War on Waste certainly generated a lot of discussion, in the comments, and also on Facebook and Twitter. It’s so great to see these things being talked about, and if nothing else, then the programme has facilitated those conversations, and hopefully raised awareness of just what a huge issue waste for us all, as individuals and as a society.

I’m sure I’m probably teaching you all to suck eggs here, and that everyone is already a convert to re-usable cups, and always remembers to take their own ( 😉 ) with them when they think they might need a coffee fix, but just in case…

  1. Take your own coffee
    Yes, I freely admit that this doesn’t really have the same allure of a posh coffee, but it doesn’t have the price tag either. If I am ever travelling by train, I usually take a thermos of coffee with me to drink on the way, but it is a bit of a pain then lugging the empty flask around with me for the rest of the day.
  2. Upcycled jam jar
    If you really want to be down with the kids, then using an old (cleaned out!) jam jar is the way to go for your re-usable coffee cup. It costs you nothing (assuming you’ve bought and eaten the jam/marmalade etc anyway), and has the advantage of the lid that you can put on when you have drunk your coffee, so that the dregs don’t spill all over the contents of your bag.
    The downsides however would be I would imagine it is quite hot to hold once it is full of coffee (this can be overcome by DIY solutions like this one below, or you can knit/crochet yourself a hand protector thing), and that being made of glass, it might be prone to breakage in your bag.

    Image: Cut Out and Keep

    Image: Cut Out and Keep

  3. Standard re-usable mug
    You can usually pick these up from charity shops if you keep your eye out, saving the planet the resources needed to make a brand new one. Some of them are insulated to help keep your drink hot, and you can pretty much take your pick of designs and colours.
    If you don’t fancy a second-hand one, then try this Ecoffee cup, made from organic bamboo.

    Ecoffee Cup

    Ecoffee Cup

  4. Keep Cup
    Keep Cups were originally designed by Melbourne cafe owners, and are specifically made to be ‘barista friendly’. They have since sold over 3 million cups, and have plastic versions, as well as glass ones. I think they are still made in Australia, so getting a cup from the other side of the world might not be the most sustainable option, but they really do seem to have put a lot of thought into making their cups as eco-friendly as possible. They have set up UK warehouses, which lessens the impact of the shipping and distribution of them.
  5. Sto-jo
    Hubby bought me one of these when they were running a Kickstarter campaign. It’s collapsible which means that I find it easier to carry round with me all the time without really noticing it taking up lots of space in my bag.
    These are made in the USA, so again possibly not the most sustainable option, but they do win out for convenience.

I’m not really a coffee drinker, but I am something of a tea-aholic, and my cup has helped me avoid unnecessary waste when I have been out with the family (usually at events where there isn’t an option for sitting down with my drink).
Do you have a favourite re-usable cup? It might be be fun to find out who has the oldest re-usable cup still in use! Do let us know your re-usable coffee cup tips in the comments.

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  • Reply Sarah December 24, 2017 at 12:20 am

    The best one that I’ve found is an insulated travel thermos from David’s tea ( here in Canada). It has a wire mesh insert for putting in loose leaf tea, a drinking lid, and a thermos lid. It also has a spot to put dry tea leaves in the thermos lid, so you’re ready to make another cup if you’re out and about ( well maybe at work anyway).It keeps tea hot for hours, although not quite so hot if you add milk. What I’d like is a mini thermos for keeping the milk cold.

  • Reply claire August 19, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    just discoverd your blog via the snail of happiness. great spirit! allow me to chime in: I travel a lot for work, fill up my bodum travel mug and refill it at every occasion, even at hotel breakfasts staff is usually happy to give me hot water directly in the mug, here is the link to the mug http://www.bodum.com/gb/en-us/shop/detail/11044-294/
    it’s stainless steel inside and closes really well thanks to the double screw top, I never have leakages. I’m not sure

  • Reply Nadine August 4, 2016 at 8:05 am

    To-go cups have been on my pet peeves list for such a long time. Damn them and all their waste! It frustrates me how much people value convenience over Eco-conscious choices. I was flipping through my Oma’s catalog yesterday and there was a page of men’s pyjamas. One of the models had on said pyjama…and was holding a to-go cup… I don’t get it. Firstly, they shouldn’t be advertising that anyway, and secondly…why would he have a to-go cup whilst still in his pyjamas…

    • Reply Jen August 4, 2016 at 8:15 am

      That’s hilarious Nadine! I guess it’s supposed to on some level make us think he is a hip and happening cosmopolitan man, and that by buying those pyjamas we (or our partners) could be too ????

  • Reply Maggie Robinson August 3, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Just wondering how the coffee shops are about putting coffee into customer’s own cup – many years ago when I asked I was told they couldn’t as they couldn’t guarantee the hygiene of my cup (I hasten to add it was a clean cup!????). Are they up for it these days, or do they make it in one of their washable cups and then our it in?

    • Reply Jen August 3, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      I’ve never had a problem Maggie, I think most places are used to it now. Someone did comment though that they went somewhere and they made the coffee in a disposable cup and then poured it into their reusable one!!

  • Reply Sewingsu August 2, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    After much research and testing I use a contigo they are really expensive but amazing. I am often out on the road all day, I make two cups of tea in the morning before I leave one in a bog standard travel mug and one in the contigo, the contigo one is still warm at 2pm! It also doesn’t spill at all. My only complaint would be that if anything it is too good and you have to let your drink cool down before you put the lid on or it is too hot to drink!!

    • Reply Jen August 3, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      I’m going to check it out Su, Thankyou!

    • Reply Rebecca August 11, 2016 at 4:34 am

      I agree with you 100% regarding the Contigo. Husband and I have 6 because he often leaves them at work :0( You do have to leave the lid off for a while to keep it from scalding you…I add non-dairy milk or a few ice cubes in to mine to speed up the process!

  • Reply busygreenmum August 1, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    Got one of the bamboo ones recently as hubby disliked taste of the plastic Waitrose ones we had and bamboo was labelled as having a neutral taste. Sadly the bit you drink from is made of a very rubbery silicone which tastes much worse and picks up any fluff from your bag so that won’t last long. I have one from Morrisons that’s more like a flask with a flip top which I really like.

    • Reply Jen August 1, 2016 at 9:18 pm

      That’s really interesting about the silicon. I have to say that tea never really tastes quite right from any of the reusable mugs I have tried.

  • Reply Vee Phillips August 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    I’ve used a jam jar in the past, when I realised I was running late and didn’t have time to finish the cup I’d just made myself, so wanted to take it with me. Lucky I had a clean dry jar right on the side! I worked on the principle that, once I’d finished it, if I didn’t fancy carrying it round with me, I could put it in a recycling bin without too much guilt as that’s where it would have ended up at home anyway.

    Otherwise, I like the idea of the collapsible Sto-Jo. Much less reason to not carry it with you if it’s small. Shame they’re from the US.

    • Reply Jen August 1, 2016 at 9:18 pm

      So hard to find anything made here in the UK Vee ????

  • Reply Nik August 1, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    I have a reusable cup from Starbucks, that I got for my graduation in 1994. Still going strong;)

    • Reply Jen August 1, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      Good work Nik!

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