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Small change, big impact: buying a reusable coffee cup

Whether you are a coffee, tea or hot chocolate drinker, most of us will purchase a single use cup once in a while. It seems to be the most convenient and common way to purchase a drink at a coffee shop. What most of us don’t realise, however, is that 20 million trees are cut every year to manufacture disposable cups. Due to this, 109 grams of carbon dioxide emissions are created per every single use cup that is produced.

The simple alternative is to purchase a reusable coffee cup. These are not only widely available but also can differ in material, such as recycled plastic, glass or bamboo fibre, so everyone can find one that is suited to them. Although production costs are initially higher than for a single use cup, the reusable cup can become more eco-friendly than single use cups after just six uses.

Whilst the make up of single use cups can be very varied, they are typically a paper cup with a waterproof plastic lining, which can take up to 100 years to degrade. Because of this mix of materials, the recycling process is complicated, and most centres are not equipped to separate the lining from the outer paper case. Unfortunately, this means that only 1% of disposable cups are currently recycled, the rest of which end up in landfill and contribute to the pollution of our environment.

The actions of individuals really can add up to create a positive impact on our environment.

With thousands of students purchasing drinks every day, Warwick has put initiatives in place to try and reduce our impact on the planet. Cafes on campus offer reusable coffee cups for £5.95. Much like other competing brands, they encourage people to bring their own cup by offering a discount of 20p on any hot drink purchased. Furthermore, at the Warwick Student Union, there is an additional 10% off applied if paying with your Eating at Warwick card. Since this was implemented, there has been a noticeable increase in people bringing in their own cup and, thus, a decrease in single use cups going to landfill. The actions of individuals really can add up to create a positive impact on our environment.

Building on this, single use plastic cups are just as significant in regards to individual environmental impact. To combat this, Warwick has replaced all plastic cups at water dispensers with paper ones, which are easily recycled and do not contribute to landfill. This has encouraged more people to bring in their own reusable water bottles, and for those that still use single use cups, they are now recyclable!

Using your own coffee cup not only allows you to cut down on landfill waste production, and reduce the use of single use plastic, but can also save you money. Large chains have thankfully realised the impact their cups are having on our climate and have started to implement discounts for customers who bring their own cup. You can save 50p per drink at Pret, and 25p per drink at Costa and Starbucks, simply for bringing in your cup, so why wait?


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