Recently, I started paying attention when I see overflowing trashcans, and I’ve noticed that a large amount of the trash is single use cups and bottles. While it’s terrible that so many of these single use items are being tossed in the trash, there is some good news. These items can very easily be exchanged for more sustainable and long lasting alternatives.
Simple Switch: Single Use Cups for Reusable Containers
The biggest way to avoid single use cups is to be prepared and bring your own.
Whether you’re just out for coffee or you’re going to an event where drinks may be served in plastic, planning ahead to bring your own container is your best bet to avoid a single use cup. The hardest part if remembering to grab your container before you leave the house, but just like with any habit a little practice makes it as easy as grabbing your keys and phone.
Since I’ve been paying more attention to what types of single use items are being thrown away, I’ve noticed that a lot of the cups I see are clearly from coffee shops and gas stations. Both of these places will often allow you to use your own cup (or jar as pictured below) and sometimes you may even get a discount for it.
But what type of cup should you use? Anything, as long as it’s reusable!
When I go out for coffee, I really like to either ask for my coffee in a reusable cup and I stay to drink it or I use a mason jar. Not only are jars multi-functional so I can use it all day for whatever I may need, but they are a standard size which makes it easy to order a drink in. The one problem I have with using a jar is that it gets very hot. If you are a fan of cool drinks this won’t be a problem, but if you’re like me and like the occasional hot cup of coffee you’ll want to be aware of this. To make sure that I can still hold onto my jar, I actually bring a knitted coozie with me or I use a jar that has a handle.
If knitting isn’t your thing, then try a keep cup or some other type of travel mug. Many coffee shops now sell their own reusable cups and mugs that make it easy to get your caffeine fix without waste.
But what if you’re going to an event on the beach or somewhere else where a glass jar would’t be acceptable? When those situations arise I use my stainless steel cup that I bought from Klean Kanteen. The cup I have is 16 ounces so it’s the same size as the standard Red Solo Cup, but it looks so much better and won’t end up in the landfill at the end of the night.
Making your own drinks and bringing them with you is another great option. Once I started saying no to single use plastic cups, I found that I actually liked making my own drinks for the day and bringing them with me. I have an insulated stainless steal water bottle that can keep hot beverages hot all day, making it and excellent way to carry a daily coffee or tea around.