One of the easiest first steps to reducing your waste is investing in reusable cups. If you are like most people in the U.S., you can’t resist grabbing your morning (or afternoon) coffee from a drive-through coffee shop. What you might not realize though is that your paper coffee cup? Not actually recyclable. Many one-use paper cups are actually coated with a wax/chemical lining that is very difficult to break down. Therefore, the whole cup isn’t able to be recycled. Even though logic might lead you to recycle it, you should unfortunately be putting it in the trash.
I have two thermoses, two water bottles, and one tumbler which seem to do be enough for me. I recommend you stash one of each of these in your car; that way, if you are on the run and want to grab something to drink, you already have access to an easy way to reduce your waste out-put. Just ask the barista to put the drink in your personal container and (usually) they will happily oblige. Many places like Starbucks even give you a 10 cent discount for bringing your own!
In terms of acquiring these containers, a quick internet search will leave your head spinning. You can get just about any kind of personalized container your heart could desire! Just pick one that you like and invest in it. Start with a thermos and see if you use it. If you find that you are needing something to put smoothies or colder drinks in, invest in a tumbler. In the long run, that 10 cents you save with add up and you’ll actually be SAVING money! If you are feeling thrifty and a new thermos sounds a little expensive, places like Goodwill and ValueVillage often have good, used containers for only a buck or two. Just give them a good wash and ta-da! You are ready to go!
If hauling around containers is a little daunting for you right now, that’s okay. There are many shops that are converting to recyclable or compostable containers. Ecotainer is a wonderful brand that supplies compostable cups and containers to shops around the country. If you see their name and logo, you know you have made a good choice! The next time you order a coffee, just ask whether the container it comes in can be recycled. If they don’t know, find someone who does! You may find that a local shop down the street only uses compostable cups and isn’t out of your way. It may not be the place you have gone to for years, but this way, you are keeping your energy up AND your waste down! Just remember, if you don't live in a place where curbside composting exists or you don't have access to composting, bringing your own cup really is the only way to cut down on your waste. Or ask for the drink "for here"!
So what are you waiting for? Go out and start filling those reusable cups with espresso drinks!