Plastic free drink cup

Day 26: Try a Plastic Free Coffee Cup

*This post may contain affiliate links on plastic free coffee cup, which means I make a small commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

In the UK alone, seven million disposable coffee cups are used every single day. That adds up to two and a half billion disposable coffee cups thrown away after a single use, every year. Half a million are littered every day. 

Though they seem like they’d be recyclable, they’re actually not. The cups have a paper exterior, which is then lined with plastic polyethene. These two components are tightly bonded together, so that the cup is waterproof. The combination of paper and plastic makes these cups almost impossible to recycle. Even worse, the cups are then contaminated with coffee drinks. Only three recycling facilities capable of recycling used coffee cups exist in the UK. As you might have guessed, only about one per cent of those cups end up being recycled. 

If you’ve read my other blogs on single use plastic, you’ll know that plastic takes hundreds of years to break down and becomes tiny microplastics, which end up basically everywhere, including our water and food. Takeaway coffee cups contain harmful plastic as well as paper. Most of the paper used to make these cups is made from virgin paper pulp – meaning trees are felled in order to produce a product that is only used for the amount of time it takes to drink your coffee. Consider that, plus the carbon footprint of producing it, and the single use coffee cup is looking pretty undesirable. 

What you can do about it

There’s a very simple solution to this problem: reusable coffee cups. While it can be difficult in the beginning to remember to bring your own cup, it will eventually become second nature. I recommend stashing one in your car or backpack, for times when you unexpectedly decide to pop by the coffee shop. Stojo offers a collapsible coffee cup which stows easily in smaller bags. 

Plastic free drink cup

Plastic free coffee cup options

There are tons of options on the market for plastic free coffee cups and mugs. Most can hold cold or hot beverages, so no need to stock up on too many. Expert Reviews has a great article on their top coffee mugs in 2021. I quite like the Papafranco cup, which is made from bamboo, has a no-drip lid and is dishwasher safe. Circular and Co’s reusable cup is made from recycled coffee cups and is leak-proof. It’s insulated and is made to last ten years, after which it can be recycled. 

If you already have reusable coffee cups at home, don’t rush out and buy a new one! The best thing you can do for the environment right now is use what you’ve already got at home. If you find yourself at a coffee shop having forgotten your reusable cup, try opting for no top. Better yet, if you’re planning to sit in the shop while you drink your coffee, ask the barista for a ceramic mug.If you’re looking to cut down on your other single use drinking containers, read my blog on reusable water bottles here.

Do you have a favorite brand of reusable coffee cups? Leave a comment and let me know what you recommend!

Mia Hadrill
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