Plastic-free Me: Reusable cup

It’s good to be back blogging! I’ve had a couple of weeks away from writing due to my whole household coming down with typical winter bugs. It’s been frustrating to be out of action at the start of the year, just when I posted my goals for 2014 and am raring to go. Sometimes though you need to do what you need to do and accept that downtime isn’t always a bad thing…

I’m also trying to coordinate my blog posts to some extent. Plastic Free July is now this year and Lent – during which I’ll be giving up supermarkets and reviving Supermarket-Free Me – starts on 5th March! I have lots to write about and a great deal of preparation is still needed.

I’m up for the challenge though!

Today’s post tackles plastic cup lids for hot drinks. Plastic Free July, which challenges participants to give up single-use plastics for the whole of July, has a lesser version of the full challenge which encourages you to eliminate only the ‘Top 4’ single-use plastics for the month. These are:

• Straws
• Plastic bottles
• Plastic bags
• Coffee cup lids

For me personally I think cup lids are the easiest to give up. In fact, before July 2013 when I learned about Plastic Free July I didn’t think I used cup lids at all – they remind me of my working days when I’d see fellow commuters grabbing take-away coffees at the train station on their way to work. I however always wore high heeled shoes when I worked. The combination of a hot drink, heels and always being in a rush wouldn’t have been a good one!

Recently, however, I was at a soft play centre with my children. After years of crawling through claustrophobic tunnels, scrabbling through ball pools of questionable cleanliness and sliding down chutes that knacker your back, I suddenly realised I am off the hook! My kids are now happy to play by themselves and for an hour all I have to do is be there for emergency nose wipes and enjoy watching their fun.

Now I can drink tea!

I was somewhat taken aback however when I bought my tea and it was served to me in a paper cup with a disposable lid. (I was mostly taken aback though by the fact that I used to visit regularly and had failed to notice this thing that now finds me so taken aback!!)

Most of the people who buy hot drinks at the soft play café sit-in to consume it, so serving everyone with disposable cups seems wasteful. I have since found out that the cups, lids, dishes and much of the disposable cutlery that is used in the café is compostable. This is better than I first thought – but surely having reusable crockery is the most environmentally-friendly option? (I’d be interested in your views!) Further it is worth noting that the building has signs up about its Environmental Policy, of which it is clearly proud.

Anyway, having consumed my tea and avoided physical activity of any sort, I’d had a taste of how thoroughly enjoyable the whole soft play experience can actually be, and I wasn’t keen to give it up…

I went home and bought a reusable cup online. In retrospect I didn’t consider my choice properly – I should have thought about the material the cup was made of and looked at the variety available. I picked a silicone one, for no other reason than they looked spookily similar to a disposable cup (see below, left) so I reckoned I was likely to get served my drink in it without any objection by staff.

photo (291)

When the cup arrived in the post it had a really strong smell of silicone. I washed it several times, but I’ve never managed to get rid of the smell. My children call it ‘Mummy’s Stinky Cup’. Has anyone else had this issue with silicone cups? I am seriously questioning whether it is fit for purpose and should be returned.

Happily however there are lots of reusable cups with lids available which can be easily purchased on the internet or locally in my area. I have used mine a couple of times and have had no problems with staff serving my drink in it. Plus I just take it home to wash.

Although my own cup hasn’t delivered complete satisfaction, I am very happy with the concept of a reusable cup and I’ll keep using one.

I’ll probably only have cause to use my cup about 20 times this year but, according to the supplier, this means that (by saving on disposable cups) I will easily have broken even in terms of the environmental impact of making my silicone cup.

Just imagine the positive effect on our planet if disposable cups were to become a thing of the past…

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4 thoughts on “Plastic-free Me: Reusable cup

  1. I don’t know whether it will work with silicone specifically, but try sodium bicarb. Put a couple of teaspoons in, fill with water, stir and leave to soak overnight. It should help; if there’s still some smell, repeat.

    I have a KeepCup which is made with solid plastic, and over time the coffee “aroma” builds up, so I use bicarb and the next day it is smell-free.

    Since I bought mine, glass ones have become available (Jococup makes them, don’t know if they sell in the UK). I kinda wish I had one as I don’t really like drinking in plastic, but getting rid of the KeepCup now would be wasteful.

    Now you’ve got the one you’ve got, try to get as much use out of it as you can!

  2. I have silicone cases for making cupcakes and they don’t smell at all, so I think your cup shouldn’t either… on this basis I would return it.
    I have a metal and plastic insulated cup that I bought in the US about 15 years ago and it’s still going strong… the insulation means the drink stays warm and you don’t burn your hands.

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