A real problem calls for radical change.
What do we as a society do in the face of a national or even global problem? Do we ignorantly turn a blind eye and continue living in a convenient, consumerist world? Or do we open our eyes to the facts and allow it to change our mindset which can only but flow into our actions?
As we continued to evaluate and grow our business, we were compelled to at least look into the facts surrounding the contribution of waste in our society. This venture started us on a confronting and difficult road.
Our investigation into the extent of our waste contribution lead us to discover ways that our business was actually contributing to a major waste issue. Here are some statistics that rocked our pantry:
- Half of the world’s plastic goes into products that are used only once. (3)
- Disposable cups are only used ONCE for the duration of 5-10 minutes of drinking time, only to be tossed into the bin and never thought about how this could be negatively effecting our world.
- Australia wide, 50,000 disposable cups are used every half hour. (1,5)
- Environmentalists warn disposable coffee cups are fast on their way to becoming a major pollution hazard. (2)
- Most disposable coffee cups contain a thin layer of plastic, and despite the consumer correctly disposing of the coffee cup in a bin, this disposable coffee cup will outlive the consumer’s time on this earth. (2)
- Disposable coffee cups are the second-largest contributing item to fill landfill. The number 1 item is plastic bottles. (2)
- Australians alone throw out OVER 1 billion disposable coffee cups per year. This is enough to circumnavigate the world two and a half-times. (1,5)
Do these facts not scream alarm bells to you for generating unnecessary rubbish and causing a major pollution hazard? We think so.
The question on many people’s mind is: Surely paper disposable cups are recyclable, just like milk and juice cartons?
Planet Ark have contributed to this conversation on various websites: “Whether coffee cups are recyclable or not is one of the most controversial questions in the recycling industry at the moment. The cups are made by covering cardboard with a thin layer of plastic to make it waterproof. The cups are pretty much the same material as milk and juice cartons which are accepted in recycling almost everywhere.’
‘How the cardboard and plastic behave in the recycling process – particularly during pulping – is the source of all the controversy. If the cardboard fibres remain attached to the plastic they can’t be turned back into paper products and therefore become a waste product.” (4)
So with this in mind, do people consciously recycle their disposable coffee cups, whether it is eventually recycled or deemed as waste? The Australian Packaging Covenant has revealed from an in-depth report that an alarming 92% of disposable cups still find their way to land fill. (4) Unfortunately the mixed messages about recyclable or biodegradable takeaway cups are not helping us decide how to throw away the 5-minute-usage cup.
After all this discussion and controversy, what have we as a business decided is the solution? We are convinced that despite change being initially uncomfortable and at times inconvenient, change can turn into a healthy pattern and routine. Inconvenience is no longer an acceptable reason for our throwaway culture.
Therefore, our café will no longer order in and provide any disposable cups for takeaway coffees.
We realise this may come at a cost to our customer base, but we are willing to wear that cost for the cause and vision. We have been so encouraged by our regular customers who are actively supporting us in our (and their) vision. To all of you, thank you!
Practically, this is how we see you participating in the change:
- Bring your own re-usable cup. Most people have at least one keep cup; some possess more than one so that they have a back-up in their bag or car in case they left their favourite in the dishwasher. While we are making this transition, by bringing in your own keep cup you will receive 50¢ off your coffee!
- Bring in a cup, mug, small container etc!!, anything that we can make coffee in!
- Purchase a high quality keep cup from our selection in-store or in the café. In doing this, you will receive a free coffee on us!
- Take 5 minutes out of your day to dine in and enjoy your coffee from a glass or mug. There are many benefits in doing this, and to name a few:
- We do your washing up.
- Your coffee will taste even better!
- You can take that 5 minutes of rest you never would have had otherwise.
- We will ensure your coffee will be fast-tracked ahead of the queue, as per a takeaway coffee order, so that you are not too delayed.
There are more changes we are keen to make, but all in good time. Our store has been implementing continuous changes over the 14 years it has been in business and we will continue to make positive changes in order to promote our ethos and vision. Changes you can expect to see in the future are implementing an alternative to takeaway smoothie orders, and also providing an alternative to plastic straws for either dine in or takeaway drinks.
We hope you are as excited about these changes as we are. Please feel free to come and chat to us more about this issue; we are more than happy to have a healthy conversation about what we do and why we do it.