What to use if I have to use. Your guide to the most environmentally conscious disposable cups.

Although our the goal of this campaign is to totally embargo the use of disposable cups from our coffee drinking culture, we acknowledge that this objective has ways to go until we reach our objective. As such, it would be negligent to not offer support for those struggling with the weight of their environmental impact in their mandatory requirements for providing disposable cups to their customers. Of course, in my opinion every café should just stock reusable cups, but creating movements and changing public opinion takes time and we can’t just let this problem fall through the cracks and into landfills in the mean time. Therefore, what follows is a list of 3 of the most popular environmentally conscious disposable cups on the market.

“49% of the CO2 emissions associated with a paper cup are from the raw materials. It is therefore imperative to source materials with low carbon footprints and minimal environmental impacts.”

Biopak.

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BioCups products are sourced from responsibly managed paper plantations and created with a coated corn-based biopolymer coating called Ingeo. Bioplastics save fossil resources by using biomass which regenerates (annually) and affords biodegradability. Furthermore all components of Biopak cups, including the inks, lids and production facilities are made from renewable resources and are certified carbon neutral.

The piechart shows the CO2 emissions for each stage in the lifecycle of this product. Identifying the areas with the largest contribution allows us to focus our efforts to reduce the associated environmental impacts. All our carbon emissions are offset.

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For more info check out their site for a detailed list of their environmental initiatives and certifications.

Eco Products

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Eco products are Made from 100% renewable resources and lined with Ingeo biopolymer. Their cups are created with renewable recourses and post-consumer recycled content that is compostable. Their focus on the ‘cradle-to-grave’ lifecycle of their products measures and tracks their environmental impacts like carbon, energy and water that go into our raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, shipping, and distribution. By breaking down their entire carbon footprint they have been able to create innovative ways to divert waste pollution.

What you see here is a basic breakdown of what makes up their entire carbon footprint in comparison.

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For more info check out their site for a detailed list of their environmental initiatives and certifications.

Side note. There is an entire range of compostable and biodegradable disposals for food-service and packaging requirements made with Ingeo biopolymer available to consumers. Check out this link for more info.

Vegware

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Similarly these cups are made with 72% less carbon emissions then plastic,  completely compostable, made with a plant based PLA lining and a plant based PLA lids.  Vegware doesn’t showcase a break down of their environmental footprint but they do include a list of their materials, which are interesting to consider.

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Sometimes Comrade, the use of disposable packaging is just unavoidable. Thankfully companies, like the ones seen above, are actively to minimising their carbon footprint, waste offset and use of plastics in their products. Look out for their logos or simply ask your barista if their cups are lined with Ingeo biopolymer if you absolutely must use a disposable cup.

Always remain conscious Comrade.

If you have any feedback or any other interesting companies that deserve to be listed here please comment below.

Till next time Comrades – End the Cup Madness

Five of the best reusable coffee cups

The Guardian has looked at five reusable coffee cups, and graded them out of five according to the taste of the coffee, comfort, attractiveness, how easy they are to clean, and, just for a laugh, “clever points” to assist you, Comrade, in making the best possible choice in choosing your ‘One Love’.

Exert from The Guardian

The JOCO Cup.

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Reviewers praised the JOCO’s rubber grip and for being “durable, but light”. One person reported that “the seal on the lid is poor, so it leaks and drips”.

Our verdict: We hit it off with this cup straight away. It’s glass, which means there’s no danger of the taste of the coffee being affected, but there is danger of smashing. The tough choices we have to make in 2014.

We liked the rubber grip. If you’re clumsy, a giant band of rubber reduces the likelihood of it breaking when it, inevitably, meets the ground. Also, it stops the coffee burning your hand but feels warm and pleasant on your face. Is it weird to put a coffee cup on your face when it’s cold? Well, we did, and we encourage you to do so as well.

Our favourite feature is the lid – we disagree completely with the reviewer above. It clips perfectly on to the cup, and on the first try. On paper coffee cups the plastic lid seems to have a one in six chance of clipping on without careful maneuvering. We’ve spilled enough cappuccino down ourselves to have a healthy suspicion of lids – and probably too much to be considered intelligent. But now your days of lid anxiety are over. Major clever points to the JOCO.

5/5

The KeepCup

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A happy customer said the KeepCup “cleans very easily and I throw it into my bag knowing it won’t break”, but someone griped that “the Keepcup is really just a plastic beaker and so all of my drinks tasted of plastic”.

Our verdict: We can’t say we thought the drinks tasted of plastic, but it takes a moment to ignore the smell of it so the taste of the coffee is slightly affected at first. Another fantastic lid, with a moveable clip than clamps over the sip hole – very useful if you’re on a rocking train with a full cup of hot tea or coffee, and worthy of clever points. Unlike glass, plastic needs a more vigorous scrub to not be left with a stale coffee smell. Because of being forced to scrub and the slight plastic smell, we award this cup:

3.5/5

Starbucks Reusable Cup

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Starbucks love being thought of as green. For me they lost all eco-credibility with the strategy when they were found in 2008 to leave their taps running all day in order to combat germs – but we don’t turn our nose up at someone trying their hardest, so we gave their cup a go.

Reviews are mixed and some are quite funny. John Davies, vice-president of GreenBiz, gripes that the Starbucks reusable cup’s uncanny similarity to the paper cup has led to four of his cups being thrown away. This was in October 2013 so we can only hope he’s managed to hang on to the fifth.

Our verdict: This cup will please those who see Starbucks as a fashion label, and the takeaway coffee cup as the ultimate accessory. It’s incredibly light and only costs £1 (AUD$2.12), and if you use it instead of a disposable cup when you buy from Starbucks you get 25p off – so if you insist on buying coffee from Starbucks (and I realise millions do) this pays for itself in four drinks.

The real downside is that it has a short life – Starbucks only recommends it for around 30 uses (even less if you put it in the dishwasher). Is that because the cup falls apart after 30 uses? If so, it’s only marginally more durable than the 4 billion disposable cups the company sells every year. Or is it a way to keep reselling the reusable cup to their eco-conscious customers? Like the water bottle companies who say you could get ill if you reuse them – yet never expect to hear “brilliant, thanks for selling me a bottle of dormant diseases”, Starbucks aim to have 25% of all their drinks sold in reusable cups by 2015. We can see how those 25p discounts would add up – as would a monthly £1 bonus from a quarter of their customers.

1/5

BYO Cup

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Designed to look just like a brown ripple-grip takeaway cup, this one is made of silicone which is fully recyclable (BYO Cup suggests charity wristbands as its next use). Reviews are thin on the ground, though this chap had a good old gripe about the squishiness of the silicone cup, foreseeing a health and safety issues from people who grab it or push the lid down with too much vigour.

Our verdict: The design is clever, and the silicone is shiny enough not to be mistaken for a real takeaway cup and chucked away. We were pleasantly surprised by how little the silicone affected the flavour of the coffee. Unlike the other cups on this list it isn’t rigid, but bendy like rubber. You do have to handle it with care when it’s full of hot coffee, but we found the bendiness to be a massive plus since it can easily be squished into a full bag. It’s easy to clean as well.

The main downside is the lid is a bit fiddly to put on, so you’ll have to exercise the same care you do with a paper cup. At this point we’d already been spoiled by the JOCO lid so we were annoyed to slip back into our old spilling ways.

4/5

The Eco Cup cup

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With an average rating of three and a half stars on Amazon, this cup seems to be less popular than its predecessor, the double-walled ceramic “I am not a paper cup” cup. The newer, sexier model, the Eco Cup, has a similar silicone lid but fewer complaints of leaks. The Eco Cup is single-walled, like an ordinary mug, and has a silicone strip to protect your hand from the heat of the coffee – but reviewers are pretty consistent about the cup getting uncomfortably hot when full of coffee or tea.

Our verdict: The heat definitely gets through. If you like your coffee super hot, the silicone grip will get very warm and the porcelain much too hot to touch. Basically, it’s a mug without a handle, and the drink loses heat almost as fast. The lid is fiddly to fit on to the cup, and smells so strongly of silicone it almost entirely ruins the taste of the coffee if you don’t remove it. As it’s made of porcelain, it’s also quite heavy.

On the plus side, it’s a cute design and does look like a paper cup until you notice the gleaming surface of the porcelain. It’s also easier to clean than its predecessor, which had ludicrous instructions involving “boiling it in a pan with lemon juice” – with the Eco Cup, a rinse with washing up liquid will do.

2.5/5

Want to rate your cup? Leave a comment here telling us why your cup is your #OneLove

Till next time – End the Cup Madness

Responsible Cafes – Tackling Madness at its source

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Understanding and acknowledging there’s a problem is the first step in remission when dealing with addiction. In our convenience driven, consumer culture, our addiction with to-go plastic packaging is one that sees little attention in the consumer’s eye. But it is an addiction non-the less, and like most of our other vices. It’s also poisonous to our health and planet.

Fortunately Comrades, organizations such as the Responsible Cafes movement aim at treating this addiction by promoting the reusable revolution at the source of temptation – The coffee shop.

The program connects thoughtful cafes with conscious consumers by encouraging them to offer a discount to customers with reusable cups. By doing so they not only connect a community of knowledgeable individuals, they also promote awareness of the coffee cup problem by engaging every day customers in culture of reuse!

Coffee shops no longer have to be the villains in this story; they have the opportunity to be the hero with the Responsible Cafes movement. Consider the potential, If every coffee shop were to acknowledge the evils in using disposable cups, share their knowledge and offer viable solutions (like stocking reusable cups, see my blog on the best in business) we could start to heal from the damaging environmental impact this addiction is reeking on ourselves and our planet.

If you need help with dealing with your disposable cup addiction, check out http://www.responsiblecafes.org/ or www.facebook.com/ResponsibleCafes to find your nearest barista /counselor. They’ll give you everything you need to help yourself do the right thing and break the cycle of waste.

Let me know what you think, leave a comment and tell me about how you’re dealing with your disposable cup addiction. This is a safe place after all Comrades.

– End the Cup Madness

10 Genius Ways to C-upcycle!!!!!

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As we know Comrade, the paper cup problem is a wide spread problem on a global scale. One is which we have created solely ourselves in our endeavours to place convenience as our highest priority. But this doesn’t have to be the case Comrade, with a little patience, creativity and imagination those sad little cups can be given a second chance at usefulness.

Together the @TheTrashureRev and I have collaborated on 10 genius ways in which to create viable solutions to these once, one use and then useless, disposable paper cups. The Trashure Rev is an action initiative focused on the benefits of upcycling (if your unsure of the term, read my blog here) to reduce your rate of consumption / waste output / environmental impact. At the same time they inspire transformative, creative solutions to upcycling old materials and breath new life into what might have been considered waste, and turn it into “trashure”.

To find out more and see our other 5 genius tips, check out their blog here!

  1. A Seed starter system.

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This cute little seed starter will work perfectly for setting up your garden and giving those seedling the best chance at survival. Plus it’s so quick and easy!

What you’ll need:

  • Empty disposable coffee cups rain
  • Potting soil
  • Small spoon
  • Seeds for your desired plant.
  • A tray
  • Small pebbles
  • Glad wrap
  • A sharpie
  • Some scissors.

First, label each cup with the types of seeds you’ll be planting using the sharpie. Then cut a whole in each cup so that there’s some drainage going on. Then it’s a simple job of putting the potting soil in each cup, push a few seeds in each cup, cover the seeds in dirt, then set the cups on a small tray with some stones set in the bottom of the tray for good drainage (you’ll need this as the cups are made of paper remember). Water the cups and then cover with plastic wrap to create a green house effect.Place in a sunny area and mist the soil a few times a day to keep it moist,

In just a few days you’ll have sproutage!

2. A Hanging Planter

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Not only are disposable cups great for starting seedlings before transferring to a garden, but they also make cool hanging planters for small spaces or a learning project for your toddlers.

All you’ll need is some scissors, string  and the above instructions to put the together. So cute!

3. A unique Desk Organizer

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This little gem is neither costly or labor intensive you only need:

– Coffee Cups. The thin paper/plastic variety. Styrofoam ones won’t be easy to stick together but you can use them if that works for you.
– Stapler or Glue
– A little patience
And you’re done!

4. A Minimalist Wreath

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For those of you who work in Cafes, maybe this Christmas, you could repurpose all those discarded coffee cups selfish customers leave behind and make a funky minimalist wreath for your shop!

What you’ll need:

  • Some wire
  • Plenty of cups
  • Some srting / ribbon
  • A stapler
  • Some scissors

First make your wire circular frame. To get it perfectly circular, use a bucket or a small circular table to get the dimensions right and then reinforce the frame by twining the wire around itself. Then take your cups and the bases off them. From there, stack your cups on top of one another and then feed through the wire frame. To finish, staple the ends of the cups together and cover with the ribbon / sting and mount.

Easy Peasy!

5. Cupsicle Moulds!

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Instead of buying icecream this summer, why not you make your own!

Try this absolutely delicious and easy recipe for home made berry ice cream. (However you could literally choose anything)

What you’ll need:

  • Cleaned disposable cups.
  • Some teaspoons (no iceicle poles allowed – think of the trees)
  • A freezer.

Make up your desired ice-cream recipe, chuck it in a cup and add the soon. Place in the fridge and allow to cool.

You can either use the soon to hold the ice-cream or simply eat straight from the cup.

YUM!

See our other 5 genius ideas at The Trashure Rev now!!

We hope you enjoyed reading this post! Please like, comment and follow us – we will be answering any questions that you may have – until next time!

Understanding Recycling, Up-cycling and Repurposing and Sustainability. What does it all mean? Am I doing it correctly?

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Today the terms “upcycling” “recycling” and “repurposing” has been used widely in discourse of sustainability efforts. These terms however, are sadly considered to be interchangeable, and many enthusiasts, whom advocate sustainable practices, may be unintentionally passing around an incorrect meaning of these words. As a practice, sustainable is absolutely dire in the ways in which we should all be progressing as a society.

Waste lives and breeds uninterrupted in abundance and is perpetuated by acts of unrestricted thoughtlessness and carelessness as to what happens when our waste leaves our care.

This blog, therefore, aims at defining these terms for you Comrade, so you may better perpetuate sustainable, knowledgeable practices at home, the workplace, with friends, family and future Comrades.

Sustainability:

Sustainability is a broad and hugely tricky idea to get your head around. But in essence, I believe the best way in which to define sustainable practices are those that can be maintained or sustained in themselves, living within the means of our natural systems (environment) and ensuring that our lifestyle doesn’t harm other people (society and culture).

Therefore if an activity is said to be sustainable, it should be able to continue forever. Read more.

 Recycling

For most of us we understand the basis of recycling: a practice that takes an item and targets it for reuse, returning it back to the cycle of daily contribution to society rather than discarding it to trash. Going to the dictionary for confirmation renders the following:

  • To treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reuse: recycling paper to save trees
  • To alter or adapt for new use without changing the essential form or nature of: The old factory is being recycled as a theatre
  • To use again in the original form or with minimal alteration: The governor recycled some speeches from his early days
  • To cause to pass through a cycle again: to recycle laundry through a washing machine

Upcycling

Is described by some as reusing a material without degrading the quality and composition of the material for its next use. When plastic bottles are recycled, for instance, most often they cannot be turned back into containers associated with anything that can be ingested due to the risk of things seeping into the plastic. As a result, these usually become carpets, or toys, or winter fleeces: things that will eventually also become trash. Recycling has simply prolonged the inevitable by stretching out our waste stream and made the lifecycle costs of the material a bit less.

In this model, upcycling becomes dually important. First, the practice reduces the amount of waste that we produce and ultimately goes into the ground for longer than any of us will be around. Secondly, it also reduces the need for new virgin material to be harvested as feedstock for new generations of product. In the case of plastic, this means less oil wells drilled. For metals, less mountains mined. For paper, less trees felled. All around this means less expended energy.

Our treatment of soda cans is closer to a true upcycling model. These aluminum containers can be melted down and made into brand new cans and in the process save over 90% of the energy required to make new ones from scratch. This cycle can continue in perpetuity, reducing energy consumption and effectively removing certain materials from the waste stream. Newsprint finds similar success.

More than once I have seen people broadcasting their “upcycling” habits like making wallets from tires, or lawn chairs from pallets, or tables from wire spools. These are examples of recycling. None of those materials are going back UP the supply chain (the series of processes that an industry uses to create a product or service.) They are just making the chain a bit longer.

Upcycling represents a truly cyclical, balanced process that all industries and companies should be aiming towards. At this point, just having the aim would be another important step. All of our products could be drastically changed if the beginning of their design started with the goal of not having them end up in a landfill. A number of ways could be utilities to train our economy into an inherent practice of reuse. My personal definition of the term ends up as:

Upcycling: A process that can be repeated in perpetuity of returning materials back to a pliable, usable form without degradation to their latent value—moving resources back up the supply chain.

It is important to note that I am not saying that recycling is a waste of time or beyond acclaim. Rather, recycling is a first step in reaching a more comprehensive and sustainable solution of waste management that can eventually limit the amount of new, virgin materials that need to be produced or mined from the earth. Continue reading “Understanding Recycling, Up-cycling and Repurposing and Sustainability. What does it all mean? Am I doing it correctly?”

The Autonomy of the Disposable cup – A recap.

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For all those coffee snobs out, This is a real look at what you’re holding when you grab you’re morning to Go coffee.

  1. The Lid

– Made of Polystyrene which is not accepted in curbside recycling programs

– Polystyrene may leach toxins into food products, especially when heated

– Polystyrene is used to make styrofoam and is classified as a grade 6 plastic

– Of all the plastics it has been advised to AVOID use of grade 6 plastics all together

– after throwing it ‘away,’ a polystyrene lid will continue to exist for hundreds of years.

– Polystyrene has the potential to transfer toxic chemicals into the food chain because it eventually breaks into smaller pieces and animals often mistake it for food.

  1. The Sleeve

–  Though the majority of sleeves are made of recycled material, most sleeves don’t end up being recycled.

– Unrecycled sleeves make up about 2.8 billion pounds of trash every year in landfills

– A coffee drinker can save 6-10 lbs of paper waste every year by simply substituting the cardboard sleeve with a reusable sleeve.

– 3 billion hot cup sleeves were produced in 2011

  1. The Cup

– Most paper cups are coated with plastic a low density polyethylene or grade 4 plastic which means they cannot be composted or recycled.

– Paper cups may consume more non-renewable resources than cups made of styrofoam

–  Paper cups are generally manufactured from virgin materials.

–  In 2006, Over 6.5 million trees were cut down to make 16 billion paper cups used by US consumers only for coffee in 2006, using 4 billion US gallons of water and resulting in 253 million pounds of waste.

– Overall, North Americans use 58% of all paper cups, amounting to roughly 130 billion paper cups.

–  Today it is estimated twenty million trees are cut down every year just to manufacture paper cups.

In conclusion, our To Go culture of coffee is not sustainable. It is damaging to the environment and our health. Today I am pledging to break my own habit of using paper cups and advocating that you also bring your own reusable to-go cup to your local shop, or sit for 15 minutes and enjoy a warm beverage in a ceramic cup at your cafe.

Continue reading “The Autonomy of the Disposable cup – A recap.”

Disposable Cups & Consumerism – Real feels.

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A common reaction to the excessive use of disposable coffee cups is: “Why donʼt we just recycle them all?”  A study conducted by the The IPSOS Focus Groups in Toronto in 2009 indicated that almost all participants believed coffee cups to be recyclable.

For most people, a cup of coffee or a hot beverage is an integral part of their day. Most of us even consider it to be a solemn rite or ritual to be performed with utter reverence to their divine barrister deities.

Its estimated that 70 percent of coffee cups are used as part of a our daily routine or ritual (Source Data: IPSOS 2008) to keep people going or simply to treat themselves to a steaming mug of their favourite roast.

Yet, consumer attitudes towards the environmental repercussions utilising disposable cups are generating are perpetuated by persistent convictions in that placing disposable cups into the recycling bin is green enough.

According to Shana Weber, the manager of sustainability at Princeton University, many people think recycling is equal to sustainability and because recycling generates a ʻfeel goodʼ effect, consumers donʼt feel the need to change their habits to reduce waste by using a reusable cup.

We live in a society where markets dictate our actions, whether consciously or not, and therefore, in order to sell us more, will hid the ugly underbelly or truth that underpins that entire commodity if necessary.

Disposable packaging products are no different.

So how has this icon become synonymous with our coffee drinking experience?

As far as habits and rituals go, the coffee run can sometimes be a tricky one to alter. For many of us, it’s ingrained as a two or three a day habit and one that is interconnected with socialising, networking and meetings. It can also be highly stylised and an individualised habit, with everyone having his or her preferred coffee, café and disposable cup. The takeaway coffee cup serves as a brand or label and in many ways, receiving your takeaway coffee is an incidental status symbol, as it shapes the identity of the user and café.

Marketing and advertising create the foundations for the ways in which we, as consumers, shape our perceptions, convictions, habits, beliefs and actions. We are apart of a larger chain of interrelated events in which media and advertising manufacture our emotional attachments / world convictions (affect theory) in order to sell their proscribed utopian vision = $$$$ for them and (believed) happiness within the consumer

Perhaps this thought-provoking video, by Gary Turk will help to examine how consumerism has taken over our lives and the implications of living in a society where markets create problems so that they can sell us solutions as a way in which to further examine this issue.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__9-VgvZYWM Continue reading “Disposable Cups & Consumerism – Real feels.”