Reducing Waste in the Workplace: Reusable Cups

Your workplace can often be a high paced and sometimes stressful environment. As such, its only to be expected that many employees don’t give much thought to the waste they are generating during their work day. It may be difficult in the beginning but much like reducing waste at home, if you can identify the top waste generators in your workplace, a few simple changes could result in large savings.

Just imagine for a moment, if everyone reading this blog decided to make one change within their company to reduce waste. For an office, it could be the switch to paperless solutions, for a shop, it could be reusable canvas bags instead of reusable plastic bags, for a gym, it could be ditching plastic cups by the water fountain … you get the idea.

It can be easy not to take responsibility for your company’s culture. “That’s just the way the industry is”, “We couldn’t survive without x”, “I’m just an X, they would’t listen to me”. But denying this responsibility wont do anybody any favours. If you can’t push your own company to change its bad habits concerning waste, how can you expect an entire nation to change its habits? Make your voice heard.

But I’m not talking about making drastic or risky changes. I’m talking about changing your mindset and, in turn, changing your habits in such a way that your company’s waste is reduced without impacting on the performance of the company or negatively impacting any employees.

Take a moment. Think about your workplace and one wasteful activity that goes on there. Now, what can you and your colleagues do to remove it? I want to know!

Over the coming weeks I will be sharing my experience on reducing waste in the workplace and I would really love to hear what some of the challenges in your workplace might be. One of the best ways of solving these issues is by throwing around some ideas. You never know what might come from it.

For me, my first port of call was obvious – implementing reusable cups.


I work in a company of 16 employees, most of whom are daily coffee/tea drinkers. While we do have a coffee machine in the office, many like to go to the local cafe to get out of the office for a few minutes. This of course, results in the generation of a lot of disposable cups. To overcome the waste, the answer was simple – invest in reusable cups.

I approached our CEO on the matter and he was immediately on board. Next, I asked each of my colleagues if they would use a reusable mug (after all, if no one would use it, we’d just be generating more waste). As it happened, eleven of the sixteen opted for a reusable mug; the remaining five were happy not to receive one.

20180227_084626After researching various options, it became clear that glass was the best material to buy(and not just because of its recyclability). Many other materials can get a bit stinky over time but glass doesn’t absorb these smells. We opted for a glass cup with a cork holder and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised to see how effective the cups have been. It is now rare that we see any paper cups make it into the office. And an added bonus, its a much better experience drinking from a glass cup than a paper cup – trust me, you wont be missing your paper cups!

A word of advice if you are interested in getting reusable cups for your company: Have a chat with your local coffee shops. Many of them sell these cups or have contacts in the companies that make them. If your company is buying enough of them, they will most likely do you a good deal.

Oh and another added bonus (is there no end?!) … many coffee shops across Ireland offer discounts between 10 and 50 cents per drink when using a reusable cup.

TIP: If you are getting the same cup for everyone, you will need to be able to identify them individually (both the lid and container). We figured this out on our first day when we arrived to the coffee shop with three cups, but as soon as the barista took the lids off we had no ideas whose was whose. I found a discreet way of marking your cup – remove the band and write your initials on the inside. This way you can see your initials inside the cup. As for the lid, you can write your initials under the flap as shown below.


I really do urge you to send an email to your CEO / Manager or whoever you think could make this happen for your company. Such a small change, when implemented across a company can have a huge effect not to mention, its always a good thing to be seen by management to be taking an interest in your workplace.



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