The to-go coffee cup is a symbol of the on-the-go worker: an iconic image of the modern professional. But the image of 600 billion discarded coffee cups clogging up oceans and landfills each year is far less glamorous. Architect Safia Qureshi wanted to make coffee cups more sustainable, without losing their aesthetic appeal. Her solution was CupClub, an opt-in reusable coffee cup program that allows users to purchase coffee cups from participating stores and drop them in widely spread drop boxes, rather than trash cans, when they are done with their daily beverage. The program then collects these cups, washes them, and distributes them for reuse 132 times before they can be fully recycled.
The program operates primarily in London, but markets in India and South Asia run similar operations with Coca Cola bottles and teacups. The appeal of the CupClub is its ease and sleek sustainable look. Customers who forget their own reusable cups do not have to make the difficult choice between forgoing caffeine (the horror!) and living with the guilt of a plastic cup when the purposefully designed reusable cup is already at the store for them. Additionally, customers who love their traditional store-supplied coffee cup can still have their beloved cup shape and feel, but with a more sustainable ending.
Environmentally friendly waste reduction strategies are most effective when they are easy and appealing to a wide variety of customers. As an efficient, stylish, and effortlessly sustainable initiative, CupClub is undoubtedly only the first coffee cup share program in the wave of reusable, on-the-go food ware.