Take a guess at how many coffee cups are discarded in Canada every year?
Or over 4.3 million PER DAY.
Those ‘disposable’ coffee cups usually end up in landfill, because, to keep them waterproof, they are lined with plastic. This means that they can’t be recycled, and take an age to break down naturally, if at all. It’s a ridiculous, shameful waste, and I don’t want to contribute to that any more.
This story actually began ten years ago, as my PhD. was originally supposed to be about coffee waste. However not long after I begun my fieldwork, I got fascinated with the themes of coffee quality and how high quality coffee is more wasteful to produce, and forgot all about the packaging!
So, we’ve been making a few changes, some Green Goings On, to reduce the waste generated by the Wheelie Good Coffee operation.
1. Discount if you bring your own mug!
For a start, we have always (and will continue to) offer a discount if you bring your own travel mug to be filled with Wheelie Good Coffee. Coffee dribbled into a travel mug will cost you $2, regardless of how big the cup is. We even have a few travel mugs you can buy at the Wheelie Good Coffee bar at Centennial Market.
2. We have new Cups.
These new “Sustainable Earth” cups, and even the lids too, are completely compostable/biodegradable. They are lined with a type of plastic that does eventually break down on its own, so even if they end up in landfill, they won’t exist forever.
3. We can recycle other companies’ cups, too.
Well, not personally. We bought a box from a recycling company called TerraCycle, who have the resources to recycle ALL coffee waste – even non-biodegradable cups from those other coffee companies that we won’t mention. And stir sticks. And lids. And sleeves. And sugar packets. And plastic spoons. Pretty much everything coffee related in fact. Please dispose of your coffee waste in this box and it will have a much more eco-friendly afterlife.
4. We’re still pedal-powered.
Even though we have a bar and a semi-permanent home at Centennial Markets now, Wheelie is still bike-powered most of the time. Dr. Coffee still cycles up to the market with fresh supplies each week, and we are drawing closer to our target of making enough money to buy one of these fabulous cargo trikes, on which to build a new version of our Wheelie Good Coffee cart.
5. FREE coffee yuk!
Used coffee grounds actually make excellent compost, and are particularly good for succulents, apparently. We generate a large bucketful of waste grounds every week. If you would like some bagged up to use on your garden, please just ask at the market!
5.5 Don’t get me started on K-Cups….
I hate Keurigs. And Nespressos. And Tassimos. You get the idea. I’m working on a project that reuses those horrible, indestructible plastic pods. Watch this space!
Coffee is a necessarily global industry, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made more sustainable. Please join us in our recycling efforts – it is at least a start of something Good.