Reusable Coffee Cozies: Upcycled, DIY, and Silicone Sleeves Reduce Cardboard

Dump the disposable sleeve. Photo via flickr by Mykl Roventine

Yeah, its best to bring your own ceramic mug with a handle to the café to fill your cup with coffee or tea, but when it's left at home and you're in line waiting for your fair trade organic soy latte, at least BYOC (bring your own cozy) instead of using a cardboard sleeve, even if it is recycled. Here's how to remember: just skip the disposable one and see if your burning fingers don't remind you next time. All that paper waste is a big pet peeve of mine. Reuse them, sure, but there are better ideas:

Perhaps the most stylish is the silicone "Cup Cooley" available in three colors: Reuse Green, Fusion Pink and Free Coffee for $4. Part coffee/tea cup insulator, part slip-resistant grip, part hand protector, the sleeves fit most standard cups, fit in pockets or purses, and can be found at Amazon, Sur la Table, The Container Store, and Green Head. The company motto: "Tell your coffee shop you deserve a free cup of coffee for saving them the cost of the disposable sleeve." Good policy, right?

My favorite DIY variety is a simple sweater idea from Jessica Okui at craft blog, Zakka Life. She said, "I've been seeing a lot of patterns to make coffee cup cozies online. Just use a sock (preferably a new one) and place it over the cup then fold down. That's it, takes a couple of seconds to do."

Among the many crocheted versions, there's a sparkly one at Coffee Cozy Café which doubles as a wrist band. Also, includes links to posts about ways to recycle used grounds and the effects of caffeine. And if you're handy with crochet needles, instructions for making a wacked-out washable one (with a button to prevent splashes), is at The Crochet Dude.

For crafty types, several blogs showcase DIY versions with tutorials, "sew" pull out the needle and thread and reuse fabric and materials. Try the Red Can's upcycled cup cozy made with a discarded necktie or a shirt cuff type. And Pink Milk and Fairycakes offers her instructions to create a pattern. Pretty Useful Things by Bean stitches the molecular combination for water and caffeine, sharing her design on her handmade version.

As mentioned in comments, here's an additional option: "protect your hand and the land" with a Cup Kozy. Available in Green Tea, Earl Grey, and other shades of felt, this handmade insulated cozy adjusts to fit 12/16/20 oz. cups, rolls up and hooks to key rings. As the company explains: with 14 billion cups of coffee served annually, wrapped in a single-use, cardboard coffee sleeve, that's 2.8 billion pounds of trash. Based on 2008 sales, Cup Kozy kept 19,000 pounds of trash out of landfills.

My local coffee house roasts its own beans and sells a basketful of corny cotton cozies with flowers, butterfly, and kittens, wrapped in Thinsulate for $7.50 by Kup Kollars. Whatever it takes — there's something for everybody: bowling pins, soccer balls, shamrocks, red HIV/AIDs ribbons, red chili peppers — but until all cafes follow Tully's switch to compostable cups, let's stop with the cardboard cozies, okay?

More on coffee:
Coffee and Global Warming
Green Suggestions for Coffee Shops
Number of the Day: 18 Coffee Trees per Person
Shade-Grown Coffee Protects Tree Biodiversity

Tags: Coffee | Fair Trade | Green Packaging | Reusability | Upcycling | Waste

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