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Everyday Enviro with Elise - Coffee complacency

Date: 15-Oct-19
Author: Elise Catterall

It's all well and good to enjoy your morning coffee, but single-use is nothing to celebrate.

It's all well and good to enjoy your morning coffee, but single-use is nothing to celebrate.

I own a few keep cups and I would guess that the vast majority of my friends do too. And if they don’t, it’s more than likely because they don’t really drink coffee or they are happy to enjoy their cup in a café.

A lot of that behaviour – mine included – was spurred on by the War on Waste a couple of years ago. And even outside my bubble of likeminded friends, I could see that that particular War on Waste episode was pivotal in changing people’s coffee buying/drinking behaviour. And the companies manufacturing reusable cups, in particular Australian owned company KeepCup, felt the impact directly - with a spike in sales like they had never seen.

In the time since, we also have been given a strong message though the media – particularly social media - of ‘don’t leave home without it’ – relating to reusable bags, cups, and other things like straws, cutlery etc. The conversation started strong and, I would have thought, was continuing strong.

What I am seeing more and more often though are indications that people are still just not getting it. And, just like social media seemed to be a powerful tool in promoting the reusable message, it is on social media that I am really aware of what seems to be complacency or obliviousness – or, sadly, disregard to the reusable cup movement.

So, I spent around 10 mins yesterday looking at Instagram under the hashtags ‘coffee’ and some related hashtags, like ‘coffeeaddict’. I was sadly amazed at the number of those ubiquitous arm-extended- coffee-in-hand shots – all posted within the last hour of me searching. In most cases these shots were focussed on the branding of the café or coffee company on the cup.

Firstly, I was surprised because I genuinely felt that using disposable cups in public was becoming stigmatised, but secondly I was baffled by the appeal of posting an image on social media of a take-away cup. Is it a case of ‘look at me, I’m at whatever café, drinking whatever coffee’? Or is it a ‘look at me, I’m living such a social/busy/glamourous life, that I need a takeaway coffee right now’? Or something else?

It genuinely seems that all the messages around single use products are lost on these people - and possibly the cafes too. 

I’ve been trying to think of a solution and this is the best I can come up with so far - if it’s about the appeal of the coffee brand, would unbranded take-away cups have an effect? Perhaps brand the proper cup instead, so that to satisfy the look- at-me-ism, people have to drink in. If it’s more about the idea of presenting a certain kind of lifestyle, I’m kind of stumped – but I’ll keep thinking.


See you next time! - Elise

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Elise                                             Catterall
Author: Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.



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