5 Ways To Go Zero Waste With Your Takeaway Coffee Habit

5 Ways To Go Zero Waste With Your Takeaway Coffee Habit
Carly Jacobs

I really don’t want to be *that* person but I’ve been avoiding takeaway cups for years. I also discovered Amy Schumer and My Favorite Murder before you, but who’s counting? (Hint: Me. I am.) I bought my first Keep Cup when I moved to Melbourne in 2009 and used it up until a few years ago when the lid broke. I wasn’t too keen on replacing it with another plastic cup and when I was last looking at replacing it you couldn’t dishwash the new glass Keep Cups so I didn’t buy one. Everything must be dishwasher safe in my land. I don’t buy clothes that need ironing and I don’t buy kitchenware that requires hand washing.

It seems like a super simple thing but it’s quite hard to get used to and you do have to plan ahead. Ditching takeaway cups doesn’t happen by accident.

Zero Waste

1. Bring an actual mug 

If you live or work walking distance from the cafe you most often go to, just take a ceramic mug with you. Lots of cafes are now hosting little mug libraries where you can take a mug from the library and then return it the next day. Isn’t that just the cutest idea? I have so many mugs in my cupboard I never use, if I could find a cafe with a mug library I’d donate them. This works really well in the workplace too because you can load everyone up with their own mug on the way out the door. No excuses.

Zero Waste

2. Buy a reusable coffee cup

I’m weird about drinking warm milk out of plastic. Not because I think plastic is going to give us all cancer (although it might…) it’s because I don’t like the taste. This doesn’t give me a get of jail free card to get disposable takeaway cups everywhere I go though. If you don’t mind drinking coffee out of plastic (honestly hardly anyone does, I’m just a bit weird) I know lots of people who love their Frank Green and Keep Cups. Frank Green now have stainless steel versions of their cups and I’ve finally got the reusable cup of my dreams. It does have a plastic lid but it doesn’t taste like anything and the stainless steel keeps the coffee hot for AGES. I’m in love.

3. Use a glass jar 

I’ve had dozens of people ask me how I use a glass jar for a re-usable coffee mug (like heaps and heaps!) and it honestly couldn’t be simpler. You just hand it to the barista, they put coffee in it and then you drink out of it. There’s no fancy little hole for you to drink out of, you just use like you’d use a regular glass in your house. Sometimes people ask me how I stop the coffee from slopping out when I walk – I just walk carefully or put the lid on. I’ve never had any issues with it and it’s dishwasher safe. I’ve also used it to get gelato and I’ve drunk wine out of it at a picnic. Any time I’d use a paper cup, I use my jar instead. I even take it to conferences to make tea in. It’s so little, I just pop it in my bag and I’m good to go. I’ve recently had to stop using my glass jar because the lid was peeling and I didn’t fancy flecks of paint in my drinks so I’ll have to look at stripping the paint of it in a safe way if that’s even possible.

Zero Waste

4. Sit down and have your coffee at the cafe 

Part of the awesomeness of the war on waste movement is that it coincides so nicely with the slow living thing. Cutting down waste usually takes up a little bit more of your time (like making your own almond milk or going to the farmers market instead of the supermarket down the road) but isn’t that what we’re all craving these days? If you can leave the house 20 minutes earlier and have your morning coffee actually sitting down at the cafe, how ace would that be?

5. Maybe don’t get a coffee 

If I forget to bring my jar with me when I leave the house or I go somewhere I didn’t expect to need it, I’ll often do without. I used to just buy a coffee in a disposable cup every now and then and not worry about it but it becomes habit forming. If I let it happen once, it starts to creep in every now and then and before I know it my Keep Cup sat unused on the shelf for a month. For example, you have to take your own bags to the supermarket now or buy the awful ones they sell if you forgot. If I keep letting myself buy coffees in disposable cups, I won’t learn. It’s not likely I’ll die without a coffee and if it was so important to me, I would have brought my jar with me. Same with my eco bags at the supermarket – If that’s important to me, I’ll wait to do my shopping until I have them with me. I do OCCASIONALLY buy a bag at the supermarket but I’m getting pretty good at carrying them with me all the time.

Do you have a Keep Cup or something similar? Are you a little bit obsessed with the War on Waste?

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9 Comments

  1. Michelle.. 4 months ago

    I have KeepCup. Have had one for years. It’s plastic cos I’m a bit of a menace and don’t trust myself with glass. Him-with-whom-I-live has one of the glass ones though and we chuck it in the dishwasher all the time (it’s only 6 months old?)
    I’m about to get one of these – https://www.furtherfaster.co.nz/collections/flasks/products/lifeveture-thermal-mug
    So epically awesome at keeping your drink warm. I put some coffee in it at 8am, then it sat in a freezing cold car til 10.30am (it was zero outside) and it was still hot. WINNING.

    I am absolutely obsessed with the War on Waste. I’m about to buy a grinder so I can buy beans in paper bags rather than espresso grind in plastic. Am about to attempt taking my own containers to the butcher too! And I always take my own shopping and produce bags to the stupidmarket (>SMUG<). Where I'm stuck is dairy products. We get milk in glass and I make my own yoghurt but creme fraiche, sour cream etc? Not sure how to handle that one.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 months ago

      Yeah I struggle with that – I can’t find milk in glass anywhere near me so we’re doing plastic with that still. I make my own yogurt but I still buy it sometimes too. Our Frank Green cups are the BEST though – stainless steel and we pre-warm them before we go get our coffee so it keeps them super warm. I try to buy cream in cardboard when I can too!

  2. Erika 4 months ago

    Keep cup, because I’m also a klutz (2 spectacular hard falls yesterday). And when I was in the office and we had a mobile coffee lady come, I’d take my china cup downstairs – 50 cent discount! But since I now work from home, there’s an espresso machine in the kitchen (fully automatic, and it does the bean grinding for me).

    I’ve been taking my own bags (including the small ones for loose vegies and fruit) and containers shopping for ages, and regularly return the plastic bags to one of the farmers we buy food from.

    I mend clothes. I reuse boxes and post bags. We compost and feed leftover and scraps to the chooks and dogs. We recycle. A lot of what is in our house is either inherited or secondhand.

    The really hard thing is the plastic that comes from feeding the dogs – that seems to be the bulk of what we throw out. It would be nice to be able to eliminate that and still have the dogs AND feed them well, but right now, that’s not happening without a lot of extra effort that I don’t have the energy for.

    Not quite obsessive, but definitely conscious. And forgiving of what trade-offs we have to make.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 months ago

      Me too! I looked into Zero waste and it’s just not do-able. I’m zero waste with takeaway coffee and I won’t ever buy a bottle of water – I always have my reusable water bottle with me. I always bring my own bags to the supermarket and I use beeswaz wraps and glass containers instead of gladwrap. I buy bags of frozen though and some pre-packaged food if I can’t get it out of a packet. It’s all about best efforts I reckon!

  3. Missy D 4 months ago

    I’ve got a couple of Keep Cups and have been using them for a few years. Definitely obsessed with the War on Waste – have reusable fruit and veg bags and never take plastic if I can help it. I’m also looking into a composing bin that would suit apartment living. 🙂

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 months ago

      The compost thing is actually really hard. I’ve tried several times and just can’t get the hang of it. I don’t ‘garden’ as such and people say there are compost drop points everywhere but their just aren’t. I tried a bokashi bucket and it didn’t work – it was just stinky and gross. If you find a good solution I’d love to hear it.

      • Missy D 4 months ago

        Yeah, I’ve seen info about those compost drop points, but I’m just not sure I would bother. I actually have some herbs and veg growing in pots on my tiny balcony so I think I’m going to compost into those (or maybe have a spare pot with soil that I can just bury food scraps into and then transfer to my herbs as a soil top up. Worst case scenario I can also throw it in the communal garden that surrounds the property. Just so much of our rubbish is food scraps.

  4. EMMA BUTLER 4 months ago

    I now save our veggie food scrap offcuts (onions skins, carrot tops, cauliflower stalks etc) in a container in the freezer until I’m ready to make stock, then when I’m working from home i bung it all in a big pot of water and let it bubble away for hours to make the best veggie stock ever, from what i would have previously composted or thrown away. Then, I compost what is left (which of course breaks down even quicker). Got this awesome tip from Alexx from Low Tox Life!

  5. Sophie Burnham 3 months ago

    I was given a reuseable coffee cup for my birthday (because my last – ceramic – one plummeted from the top of my car one day) – from Big W – BZYoo I think is the brand – oh my goodness, its metal, it holds head and it fits in the cupholder of my car!!!

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