The morning coffee rush is a familiar sight at any café. Baristas bustle behind their machines, scrawl names on plastic lids, and hand over disposable coffee cups to heavy-eyed customers. The coffees are downed with glee, the cups tossed into the bin (or the beach or the street) without another thought… and that’s where the problem lies.
Approximately one million disposable coffee cups end up in landfill or the environment every minute of every day, and most cannot be recycled due to a thin plastic lining.
In February last year Piers and I gazed upon the coffee-addicted Gaia staff cradling their disposable coffee cups every day and decided that, particularly as an environmental company, something had to change. Piers promptly ordered a bunch of company-branded reusable coffee cups.
These cups were met with an enthusiastic response, and with a little adjustment period for the behavior change, and a rather humorous punishment scheme for anyone who forgot to use theirs, we have seen the blue and white Gaia cups completely replace disposable ones.
We have 21 staff at Gaia Resources, and all except two (very, very weird) staff members enjoy a cuppa daily. Personally, I just make myself one from instant coffee (or, as the gang like to call it, ‘powdered disappointment’) but between the remaining, normal staff we have used our keep cups roughly 75 times each week, or around 6000 times since they were purchased back in February last year.
That’s around 6000 disposable coffee cups and plastic lids spared from landfill, just for our team.
What that looks like for each of our team members
That astounding figure this small change has made reminded me of a quote I saw during the recent single-use plastic bag debate: “’One bag won’t make a difference’, said 8 billion people”. If we can each be mindful of saying no thank you to excess packaging, single use items, or that cute tiny umbrella in our Friday cocktail, we can indeed make a difference.