Single-Use Coffee Cups

Single-use coffee cups. This is the hot environmental topic of the moment. It’s something that we’ve been hearing a lot about lately. Everyone is talking about the issue and rightly so, with a worldwide estimated 1 million disposable coffee cups ending up in landfill every minute, according to KeepCup. This amounts to a staggeringly large figure of over 5 billion per year. According to the reusable cup producer, these disposable cups can take up to 50 years in landfill to breakdown. While some companies can be seen implementing change by switching from single-use coffee cups to compostable or biodegradable coffee cups, this welcome change cannot entirely eradicate the issue at hand.

Cups that are compostable cannot be put into household compost where they would otherwise gradually breakdown, instead the majority of these cups are ultimately ending up in landfill. If biodegradable cups which are made from biodegradable plastics end up in landfill, they can take years to breakdown. This long process also ultimately results in the production of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, which negatively impacts the ozone layer and contributes to the worrying issue of global warming.

So, while choosing to buy coffee or whatever caffeinated non-caffeinated beverage takes your fancy from your local coffee shop, choosing somewhere that uses compostable or biodegradable cups is a positive step in the right direction. I read recently that Bewley’s launched their recyclable cups at their premises on Grafton Street in Dublin with both the cup and the lid being suitable to dispose of in our normal, everyday recycling bins. It’s inspiring to see companies taking a huge leap by adopting these changes and I have no doubt that even more will follow suit.

But what further step can we, as consumers, take to reduce our coffee cup waste in general? By purchasing a reusable coffee cup, not only will you have a positive impact on the environment but you’ll also have a positive impact on your funds too. Many places offer discounts to those with their own reusable cups. Starbucks for one, offers a discount if you purchase and use one of their own reusable cups.

But what exactly have I, as just one person, done to make a difference? In order to put my save-the-world-one-coffee-cup-at-a-time idea into action, I purchased my own KeepCup (available at from the Book Centre in Waterford (, which set me back around €17. However, I look at this fashionable, fully recyclable cup (see image) as an investment not just for myself but for this earth that we walk and depend on so much.

Of course, reusable coffee cups can be bought for a couple of euro in the likes of TK Maxx, coffee shops, bargain shops and supermarkets. Basically, in virtually any retail outlet. It costs very little to make such an enormous difference.

So please, jump on-board with me and fight to make using a reusable coffee cup a normal part of everyday life. Make the change and inspire your friends and family to do the same. It really is the little things that make a difference, no matter how small they might seem.

Not only environmentally friendly but also bright and quirky.

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