It’s time to bring back reusable coffee cups at cafes!

Humans are creatures of habit, and before the pandemic hit, a palpable shift occurred in the collective environmental conscience! Mass change was occurring across Australian cities, which saw more people bringing their coffee cups to a cafe and opting out of using single-use cups. We were having fun with it, with colourful mugs and reusable coffee cups carried from home to café and café to work. The shift was visible!

Unfortunately, for the safety of our communities, we had to take a 180-degree turn on many environmentally helpful behaviours (think of the single-use plastics in RAT tests – ouch!)

Now that cafes have been able to return to normal and accept reusable coffee cups, we have still seen a drop in the number of people using their personal cups and mugs at cafes. It needs to change.
Hygiene and COVID-related bans on personal cups have long since been lifted, but behaviour has yet to return to the norm!

According to an article published by The Age, Melbournians have felt a ‘sense of environmental helplessness’.
It’s understandable and easy to revert to behaviours that have been normalised for decades – and with many environmental responsibilities being placed onto the individual instead of the big corporations, it can feel discouraging.

However, we can not ignore the idea that small things matter and tiny changes make significant differences. It is estimated that Australians dispose of 1.84 BILLION single-use coffee cups every year. That number is too high, and dusting off your stainless steel Yeti cup or your branded work mug might just help get that statistic down.

Recently, I had a weekend away in Castlemaine, driving around the Town; I was looking for a coffee shop to grab a takeaway from. I saw a lovely corner shop called Tortoise Espresso. As I parked and walked up to the coffee ordering window, I read a sign that said, “Take Your Time.” As I got closer, I read, “No Disposable Coffee Cups, Stop and Enjoy.”


It had been a while since I had sat and enjoyed my coffee, and the reminder stayed with me for weeks after visiting. It’s not just the environmental aspect of takeaway coffee cups we should consider. Perhaps the more significant message is to slow down. So many single-use items are created for the ease of doing things faster. Many single-use items help us do things on the go – and maybe we need to stop the hustle and the rush and see how slowing down helps our environment.

Let’s bring back the same vigour and accountability around single-use coffee cups. Buy your staff a reusable coffee cup as a staff gift. Switch from having a takeaway at your local and sit down for 15 minutes, watching people and dogs go by.
We only have one world, so let’s do the best we can by her.