Take the Pledge to Reduce Single Use Coffee Cups

For many working professionals, a cup of coffee is a requisite start to the day. However, Americans throw away 400 million single-use coffee cups every day, or a staggering 50 billion cups each year –that’s 23 yearly pounds of trash per person. 

The environmental impact of disposable coffee cups is enormous:

  • Paper coffee cups are not recyclable by most facilities because of the polyethylene plastic lining and coffee contamination.
  • Single-use coffee cups that are thrown away in landfills take decades or more to break down. 
  • Each disposable coffee cup is responsible for 0.24 lbs of carbon (C02) greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Plastics break down into smaller and smaller particles called microbeads or microplastics, which accumulate in the food chain. Evidence suggests that many end up being consumed on our dinner plates as well, showing up in products such as sea salt, honey, and even tap water. 

eCO2greetings created this infographic comparing yearly coffee cup waste to the Seattle Space Needle:

While the Seattle Space Needle is 184m high, the yearly coffee cup waste created by Americans would reach 701m high. 

Carry Your Cup

As a response to these disturbing facts, Carry Your Cup was created to empower individuals to make a difference by bringing their own reusable cups. Individuals wishing to switch to reusable cups can formalize their actions by pledging on the website for a certain length of time:

“I pledge to carry my own cup, a non-disposable one, for liquids. If I don’t have my own cup, I will drink from glass, ceramic, metal, etc., but NOT disposable. I pledge to use non-disposable cups for the following amount of time…” 

People can pledge for 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, or forever. 

Pledges are most effective when they are shared publicly and taken with coworkers, family members, or friends. 

Corporate Sustainability Initiatives for Coffee Drinkers

Companies considering creating a more sustainable workplace can also proactively create initiatives to encourage more “green” practices.

The Corporate Sustainability Collaborative — a collection of nearly 50 businesses in Oregon and Washington State — has organized a waste-reduction campaign geared towards coffee drinkers in April of each year. Their 2017 Campaign was called “Reduce Reuse Recaffeinate.” Every time a professional brought a reusable container to their local coffee shop, they could ask their barista to punch a downloadable “Reduce Reuse Recaffeinate” card and be entered in a prize raffle.

Enjoying a caffeine buzz every morning doesn’t have to come with such high environmental costs. The first step: stopping the use of single-use coffee cups by taking the pledge to carry your cup.