The disposable coffee cup disaster can be solved in such a way that also purges your cluttered kitchen cabinets. It's win-win for all!
Imagine if you could go into a coffee shop, get your delectable latte in a china mug, and then walk out the door and head on your way. This is what a cafe in Ipswich, England, has opted to do. In lieu of disposable coffee cups, which generate obscene amounts of waste worldwide, La Tour Cycle Cafe has opted to use ceramic mugs instead -- even if that means customers take them away. Supply does not appear to be a concern. Employee Anna Matthews told the BBC in a short video:
People in Ipswich can donate their unwanted mugs to the cafe for others to use. There is a basket out front where customers can leave donations or return mugs they took previously. This gesture coincides with the growing popularity in minimalism and purging unnecessary belongings from one's home. Plus, it's a great way to get any silly, quirky mugs that one may have outgrown back into circulation.
"We've all got mugs languishing in our cupboards that we no longer need, so why not donate them to your local coffee shop, and allow people to actually have a hot drink in a china cup while they walk around?"
What I really love about this model is its simplicity. It acts as an important reminder that the solution to a complex global problem -- that of coffee cup waste -- does not really require fancy solutions. We don't need to be manufacturing and buying expensive insulated coffee mugs designed specially for sipping on the go, nor do we need to so focused on investing in recycling infrastructure to be able to separate the various components of a disposable plastic cup. Our municipalities don't even need to invest in a special hard-plastic reusable mug that requires a deposit, like the much-touted coffee cup in Freiburg, Germany. It's not that these things are unnecessary, it's just that they can be made less relevant by simply using a china mug.
To solve the coffee cup waste problem, we already have what we need in our own cupboards and thrift stores. There are probably more than enough superfluous china mugs floating around England right now to keep every coffee shop in business, particularly if regular goers return the ones they've used. Sure, there is greater potential for mess with a china cup than a lidded plastic cup, but that's a small price to pay. Throw an extra shirt in your bag in the morning and take extra care while sipping.
Way to go, La Tour Cycle Cafe, for making this your new standard. Hopefully other cafes will follow your admirable lead.