Have you, like me, ever been guilty of ordering a to-go coffee in a rush while your thoughts cut to your filthy reusable cup sitting beside the sink in your kitchen covered in the dregs of yesterday’s flat-white?
In a perfect world, we would all have our reusable cup with us when we needed it.
It would always be pristine and ready to go
Sadly, in reality, it doesn’t always work out like that.
Even though I may have the odd slip up like this, I tell myself, it is still better to own a reusable cup with the intention of using it as often as possible- isn’t it?
Writing for the conversation.com, Caroline Wood, a researcher from Sheffield University wrote that although reusable cups have surged in popularity, they typically account for less than 5% of sales in coffee shops where they are sold in the UK.
She writes: “The unavoidable truth is that it simply isn’t convenient for people on the run to remember their cup, carry it around and wash it out between uses.
What’s more, it can take between 20 and 100 uses for a reusable cup to offset its higher greenhouse gas emissions compared to a disposable, due to the greater amount of energy and material required to make a durable product and the hot water needed to wash them.”
Therefore, we need to hold tight to our reusable receptacles in order to get the use out of them that is needed to make their production worthwhile.
This means that falling victim to human error by losing them is not an option.
I have left one reusable cup at an old workplace and one on a train in France.
Unless a thrifty former colleague or fellow passenger had the eco-conscience to bring it home and use it, I fear they too, may have ended up in the bin.
As well as this, the most popular brands of reusable cups can be pricey, which can alienate people who have less disposable income.
This leads to those on a lower-income buying flimsy, cheaper models for under a tenner which ends up in the landfill far quicker than the more expensive cups are designed to.
And, as the market for reusable products continues to expand, manufacturers continue to upgrade the humble reusable cup.
With new designs and features emerging are people going to keep buying more modern models of reusable cups, thus, defeating the purpose altogether?
As we become more conscious of the waste we are creating, we also need to be mindful of the effectiveness of the solutions we are being sold.
Although using a reusable cup may be a drop of soya-milk in the coffee in terms of reducing waste, at least it is something.