Waste is a design flaw
- Kate Krebs
In November last year, we took the first tentative step towards winding down our reliance on waste, single-use, disposable, throw-away, rubbish - choose your term! - takeaway coffee cups. We decided that we no longer wanted to be responsible for unthinkingly handing our customers a piece of destructive waste. We wanted to design a system that DIDN'T include the flaw that coffee cup waste implies.
If you’ve joined us on the journey so far, you’ll notice that we began offering reusable ceramic mugs from our mug library as the default option for all takeaway coffees, only providing single-use waste cups for an extra cost - most of it donated to Clean Up Australia. Since that time, about 90 per cent of our takeaway coffees have been served in reusable cups - whether they were cups belonging to the customer or cups we loaned out. (Let us just pause here for a sec to give every single person who went to the extra effort of using a reusable cup for their takeaway drink a big high five!)
Even last year, we envisioned that we would one day make the move to completely eliminating our use of waste, single-use, disposable, throw-away, rubbish takeaway cups.
Friends, that day has come. As of today, we will not have one single disposable take-away cup to offer takeaway customers.
Our shelves are heaving under the weight of reusable mugs donated to us by the conscientious people in our community, and these mugs are ready for you to use if you forget to bring your reusable cup with you.
But it’s not just the donation of mugs that enables us to make this big shift. We’ve been emboldened by the enthusiasm of our customers for this little scheme, and by the proactive, environmentally progressive community in which we live.
Even if you don’t live in Yack, chances are you’ve heard about some of the community groups doing awesome, inspiring stuff, and punching waaaaay above their weight, in the scheme of small-town community environmental groups. Groups like Plasticwise Yackandandah. Or Totally Renewable Yackandandah. Or the committee behind the Yackandandah Folk Festival. These people and groups have set a standard, created a set of values, started the conversation and set expectations of just how hard we should all be trying to live better, more environmentally conscious lives.
We count ourselves fortunate to know that these groups, and the people behind them, have our back when it comes to making a change like this. It’s groups like these that make ambitious changes not just possible, but inevitable.
There’s no denying that our complete and irreversible shift away from disposable takeaway cups is part of a wider cultural shift that has been sweeping its way across our country for a few years now. You can see it in supermarkets no longer giving away plastic bags. You can see it in the community’s embrace of the ideas behind Plastic Free July. You can probably see it in other cafes around you, as they also turn their backs on disposable cups, straws and packaging.
You’re probably already part of this shift. But at this juncture, we’d like to present a fun little notion we encountered recently that we think has enormous merit, in terms of really consolidating our community’s stance on environmental behavior change. It’s the idea of the “Yackandandah Green Line”.
The Green Line is invisible, but you’ll know it’s there, because you’ll be hit by a warm, fuzzy feeling when you cross it. Traversing it, you’ll be stung by a sense that you’re part of something big and good and of common worth. The Green Line exists on the outskirts of our town, and by stepping over it, you can try on the Yackandandah “green” value set for size, even just for a day. Think of the Green Line as representing the unique culture being created by Yack groups, individuals and businesses that care so much about the environment. Just as they care about the environment, so too are they concerned with ensuring that everyone - local and visitors alike - find a way to share in this culture.
As such, you’re going to need to be prepared for a day on our side of the Green Line. That means packing your reusable shopping bags. It means grabbing your reusable cup and remembering to bring it with you when you come for takeaway coffee! It means filling up your drink bottle from Yack’s many water stations and avoiding bottled water. It means bringing your bike with you, parking your car away from the main street and pedalling your way around our town during your stay. It means sorting and disposing of your waste as carefully as the volunteers at the Yack Folk Festival do, to ensure that everything that can be reused or recycled IS reused or recycled. It means reducing your electricity use while you’re here - think of it as your contribution to Totally Renewable Yackandandah’s bid to have our town entirely powered by renewable energy within the next four years!
Stepping over the Green Line - and indeed, participating in waste-free cafe culture - isn’t scary, intimidating, or an exclusive experience reserved only for those who can show their “green stripes”. The one thing we’ve learned during this whole crazy cup caper is that it’s for everyone - grandmas with beautiful porcelain cups, hipsters who like to drink their coffee from jars, tradies clenching thermos flasks in their fists on their way to a job. We want to make sure that everyone can participate, whether they’re testing the waters or are die-hard “green liners”. As of today, we want to be part of a town-wide move to make the Green Line a little more visible and explicit. In our case, we’re doing it one reusable cup at a time.
Join us, won’t you?!