Reusable Coffee Cups: Grounds for a Better Future

Reusable Coffee Cups: Introduction

Welcome to another edition of Play It Green’s sustainability tips where this week, we’re focusing on reusable coffee cups. Did you know that billions of disposable coffee cups are thrown away each year, contributing to massive amounts of waste?

By switching to a reusable coffee cup, you can save money and significantly reduce your environmental footprint. In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating history of coffee cups, the environmental toll of disposable options, and what to look for in sustainable alternatives. Plus, we’ll introduce you to some standout brands making a real difference.

Let’s make every coffee break a step towards a greener planet!

History of Coffee Cups

The history of coffee cups is as rich and varied as coffee itself. The earliest known coffee cups date back to the 15th century in the Arabian Peninsula, where coffee was first brewed. These early cups were often made of brass or other metals and were designed to keep the coffee warm.

By the 17th century, as coffee spread to Europe, the design of coffee cups evolved to include porcelain, which provided a more elegant drinking experience. Fun fact: the handle on the side of the cup was introduced in the 18th century to protect drinkers from burning their fingers on the hot beverage.In the 20th century, the invention of disposable coffee cups revolutionised the way we consume coffee on the go. 

The first disposable paper coffee cup called the “One Cup,” was introduced by the Dixie Cup Company in 1907. This innovation made it easier to serve coffee at events and in workplaces without the need for washing up. The 1960s saw the introduction of polystyrene foam cups, which provided better insulation but introduced new environmental concerns due to their non-biodegradable nature.

Reusable Coffee Cup The first coffee cups were reusable, made from brass and found in the Arabian Peninsula
The first coffee cups were reusable, made from brass and found in the Arabian Peninsula

The rise of coffee culture in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has led to an explosion in the use of disposable cups, making it more important than ever to consider sustainable alternatives.

Environmental Impact of Non Reusable Coffee Cups

Traditional disposable coffee cups pose significant environmental challenges. Each year, billions of disposable coffee cups are used and discarded worldwide, with most ending up in landfills. These cups are often made from a combination of paper and plastic, which makes them difficult to recycle. The plastic lining inside the cups is designed to make them waterproof but also renders them non-biodegradable. This means they can take hundreds of years to decompose.

The production process for disposable coffee cups involves the consumption of vast amounts of resources. These include water, energy, and raw materials. For instance, it is estimated that around 20 million trees are cut down annually to produce paper cups. Additionally, the process consumes enough water to fill 34 Olympic-sized swimming pools every single day.

The manufacturing process also generates a considerable amount of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. These pollutants contribute to global warming and environmental degradation. Moreover, the plastic lids that often accompany these cups add to the growing problem of plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways. Shockingly, it is estimated that over 2.5 billion coffee cups are produced in the UK alone. Alarmingly, only 1% of these are recycled. 

Reusable Coffee Cups An estimated 500 billion disposable cups are made and thrown away globally each year
An estimated 500 billion disposable cups are made and thrown away globally each year

The remaining cups contribute to the 8 million metric tons of plastic waste that enter our oceans each year. By understanding the environmental impact of disposable coffee cups, we can make more informed choices. It also provides the drive we need to seek out sustainable alternatives to reduce our footprint.

What to Look For in a Reusable Coffee Cup

If you decide to purchase a reusable coffee cup, it’s essential to consider materials, durability, and overall environmental impact. Look for cups made from sustainable materials such as stainless steel, glass, or bamboo. These materials are not only durable but also free from harmful chemicals like BPA, ensuring a safe drinking experience. Stainless steel cups are excellent for maintaining the temperature of your beverage, while glass cups offer a clean, pure taste without affecting the flavour of your coffee. 

Another important factor is the design of the cup. Opt for a cup with a secure, spill-proof lid and a comfortable grip. Many reusable cups are designed to fit standard cup holders and coffee machines, making them convenient for use on the go. Check for features like double-walled insulation, which can keep your drink hot or cold for longer periods. Additionally, choose cups that are easy to clean and dishwasher safe to ensure hassle-free maintenance.

Certifications can also guide you towards environmentally friendly products. Look for labels like LFGB, which ensures food safety, and other eco-friendly certifications that guarantee sustainable production practices. Finally, it’s also beneficial to support companies that prioritise ethical labour practices and transparency in their supply chains. 

Reusable Coffee Cups Look for cups made from materials like bamboo or glass that can be recycled
Look for cups made from materials like bamboo or glass that can be recycled

By considering these factors, you can select a reusable coffee cup that not only serves your needs but also contributes positively to the environment. Make your coffee habit a sustainable one by choosing wisely and supporting responsible brands.

Three of Our Favourite Reusable Coffee Cup Brands

Circular & Co.

Our first brand, Circular & Co. offers innovative reusable coffee cups made from recycled single-use paper cups. Additionally their cups are designed to last for 10 years and are 100% recyclable at the end of their life. Circular & Co. focuses on creating a circular economy by turning waste into valuable resources. Explore their range of eco-friendly coffee cups and join the movement towards a more sustainable future at Circular & Co.

You can also use code PLAYITGREEN10 at checkout for 10% off your first order!

Reusable Coffee Cup - Circular and Co. Circular Stainless Steel Travel Mug, 12oz (340ml)
Circular and Co. Circular Stainless Steel Travel Mug, 350ml (12 oz)

Ecoffee Cup

Our second brand, Ecoffee Cup provides eco-friendly coffee cups made from natural, biodegradable bamboo fibre. Furthermore, their cups are lightweight, durable, and come in a range of vibrant designs. Ecoffee Cup’s mission is to reduce single-use waste and offer stylish, sustainable alternatives for coffee lovers. Discover their beautiful and sustainable coffee cups at Ecoffee Cup.

Take advantage of a 15% discount off your first order by using code PLAYITGREEN15 at checkout. This can be used once per customer and is available until 31/8/24.

Reusable Coffee Cup - Ecoffee Cup Drempels medium 350ml (12 Oz) plant based reusable coffee cup
Ecoffee Cup Drempels medium 350ml (12 oz) plant based reusable coffee cup


Our final brand, KeepCup offers stylish, reusable coffee cups made from sustainable materials. Their cups are designed for durability and come in a variety of sizes and colours. KeepCup promotes the reuse revolution, encouraging people to bring their own cups and reduce disposable waste. Check out their range of reusable coffee cups at KeepCup.

Use code WORKER-584JRZUA1NQM at checkout to take advantage of 15% off your order!

Reusable Coffee Cup - KeepCup Tempered Glass and recovered cork reusable 340ml (12 oz) cup
KeepCup Tempered Glass and recovered cork reusable 340ml (12 oz) cup

Reusable Coffee Cups: Wrap Up

Thanks for joining us in exploring reusable coffee cups! Switching to reusable cups from brands like Circular & Co., Ecoffee Cup, and KeepCup not only makes your coffee routine more enjoyable but also helps protect our environment.

If your workplace or favourite café still uses disposable cups, consider encouraging them to switch too—small actions can lead to substantial positive changes. At Play It Green, we’re all about making these small, impactful changes together. Let’s continue to make conscious choices and inspire those around us to do the same.

Your actions make a difference. Let’s make every coffee break count!

Play It Green: Empowering Your Sustainability Journey

Ready to take your commitment to sustainability to the next level? Play It Green stands as your partner in creating positive environmental change. From educational resources on sustainable practices and signposting to sustainable services to initiatives like tree planting and social giving, Play It Green offers a holistic approach to environmental stewardship. 

Join us in the journey toward sustainability—embrace eco-conscious practices and be a force for positive change in our world. All whilst staying relevant, meeting legislation and aligning with the values of today’s consumers and employees.

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