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Laynie Saji Pereira

It’s safe to say it’s been a hard year. For so many of us, the way we live life has changed on a huge scale. On a micro scale, those small habits we haven’t paid much attention to have become the one’s we now miss. For me, the way I drink coffee changed this year.

If like me you’ve been feeling any sort of enviro-guilt while ordering your favourite coffee in a disposable cup and plastic lid during COVID-19, you’re definitely not alone. The good news is that as cafes around Australia are gradually returning to “BAU” (make of that what you will); many owners and baristas are welcoming back the returns of keep cups.

A quick reality check for you, according to a study by Melbourne University, Aussies are throwing away one BILLION paper cups along with their plastic lids every year…ouch. Thinking about the resulting landfill is a scary thought.

While cafes around Australia didn’t outright ban keep cups this year, many understandably refused to accept them in bid to keep you and staff safe from potential contact from the disease. Refusing keep cups was done at a time where we didn’t know much about the spread of the virus, but as this year has progressed we’ve learnt more.

Contrary to what many of us thought, evidence now shows that a single-use cup isn’t the best substitute to a keep cup that has been properly cleaned by its owner (properly cleaned meaning hand-washed in soap). Sanjaya Senanayake, Associate Professor of Medicine at the Australian National University said there’s actually no proven benefit to using disposable cups over keep cups. "If the person has not been sick, and the person has kept the cup clean… if all those criteria are met, then keep cups are safe."  

To put it simply, wash your keep cup thoroughly the same way you wash your hands and you’re good to go.

So, dust off that keep cup and venture out to your favourite café for a more enviro-friendly coffee (and banana bread, why not?), your conscience will thank you for it. 

If you’d like to find a café near you that will accept reusable cups, visit Responsible Cafes.

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