Going for a win

So now that we’ve defined zero waste and are depressed by the impossibility of it all – I mean, “generating little or no waste” is fairly daunting – we’re going to go for an easy win.

Well, you gotta start somewhere.

Internet, meet my reusable coffee cup and travel mug:

My babies at work. Literally.

At work. Literally.

I have a (somewhat thrashed) Klean Kanteen (the only thing I own with a name that is not spelled correctly. That’s a personal problem, though), and I am fairly good about taking it with me.


Sometimes I forget it at home or at the office. Sometimes I really just want a larger size that my mug’s 16 ounces when I’m at a coffee shop. I’m especially bad about that in the warmer months when iced vanilla lattes call my name with their sweet, sweet song.

Wait, sorry, distracted, what was I talking about?

I’m better at using my coffee cup (Ron Swanson! Parks and Rec! Anyone?), because I keep it at work and when the need is great enough to send me to the staff room for crappy coffee, or, even worse, to make me brew a cup of tea (sometimes things are rough in the newsroom), it’s right there.

But still. Those paper take-away cups with the plastic lids? Yeah, I have been known to use them.

My first zero waste goal: To NOT forget my reusable mugs, not even once.


If you buy just one cup of coffee or tea in a disposable cup every day, you’ll end up creating about 23 pounds of waste in one year. (Source)

(Oh, geez, that’s almost two pounds of waste a month.)


Fifty-eight billion paper cups are tossed out annually in the United States alone. Every four paper cups manufactured equals one pound of C02 emissions. Twelve billion gallons of water are used in the making of paper cups annually. Many paper cups are coated with plastic and therefore cannot be recycled. (Source)

(Well, that’s depressing on multiple levels. And we’re not even talking about the waste generated from the plastic lid yet.)

Let’s turn this into a challenge … let’s say for the next 14 days. We can TOTALLY do this for 14 days!

To make it more interactive, please post photos of your mugs out there in the wild on the Simple Year Facebook page. There’s no prize or anything for doing that except, like, saving about a pound of potential waste or whatever from the trash. I just think it would be fun.

If you don’t drink coffee … well, we need to have a talk, because coffee is delicious … you can make this a reusable water bottle challenge. And if you don’t already have a reusable mug or bottle or cup, your challenge is to find one, preferably used, that you can live with.

I’m looking forward to seeing your photos!

Next up: A trip to the grocery store. We’ll get a baseline on what my zero waste shopping challenges are, and what the easy parts will be.

12 Responses to Going for a win

  1. Oh! Good challenge. I’m a year round iced tea drinker and I’m horrified at the amount of waste that’s producing. How could I not have realized. I feel bad about spending the money – but I hadn’t thought of the waste! Need to invest in a cup – and maybe start brewing at home.

  2. I’m in. I just need to find a (new to me) water bottle, as I lost mine yesterday running errands…
    Could you use a mason jar for your vanilla iced lattes?

    • That’s a GREAT idea! I’m totally going to try that!

      I wish you were my neighbor. For some reason, reusable water bottles are popular give-aways here (I haven’t quite trained the girls to not bring things home just because they’re offered), and I have a couple destined for donation…

  3. Good challenge – EXCEPT the baristas around here don’t cooperate. I took my reusable cup everywhere with me – hot and cold. About 75% of the time, whether I was in the store or in the drive through, I’d tell them I had my own cup. They’d say OK and give me the discount. Then I would watch them make whatever drink it was in THEIR cup, pour it into MY cup (which they had all along inside), and throw THEIR cup in the trash. Kinda defeats the purpose, huh? I mentioned it to them a few times and they just shrugged and said “It’s just easier and faster this way.” Ugh.

    I’ll take the 14-day challenge and see if I can help change their minds on what’s easier 🙂

    • Wait, what?! Here they make coffees in measuring cup things (if I’m going crazy with a latte) or the usual espresso shots dumped into my cup with water (because 95 percent of the time I just get an Americano with cream. I’m terribly boring). It would be so frustrating to bring in a mug and watch them throw a cup away anyway!

      Good luck — keep me posted! I’m going to be wondering how this turns out!

  4. you’re on! Since I moved from plastic keep cups to a glass one (past two weeks), my ‘non paper’ has decreased further. The plastic wasn’t awesome to get clean – the chocolate of my mocha sticking to it. Glass – no problem with a half assed hand wash each morning.

    BTW don’t come to Australia. Our large is 12oz. Yep, sad but true. Oh and all our coffees are fancy like Italy with milk in them, not watery dropolater style.

    • Okay, first of all, I have to address this alarming idea that coffee only comes in 12 ounces where you are. I mean … if that’s a large, what’s a small?! I’d have to get two! 😉 And no Americanos? How do you even live? Our small is generally 8 ounces, then goes to 12 and 16, but you can also get 20 ouncers at some shops — or even 24 or 32 if it’s an iced or blended drink. (I’m a little embarrassed to admit that compared to your 12 ounce large, to be honest.)

      I agree, glass is MUCH easier to clean than plastic. I actually laughed out loud at your half-assed hand wash comment (sing it, sister!), until I remembered your tiny fancy coffees and had to cry. 😉

      • Hahahah – we also don’t use Oz in Australia, except my keep cups have it printed on them, so that’s how I know. Starbucks and our local equivalent (Gloria Jeans) both have larger and especially for chilled drinks. Lemme confirm what a horrible, small is – I never buy a small!!

  5. I would love to get a recommendation for a good glass water bottle 🙂 I hate that I still use disposable water bottles for the gym but I hate the hard plastic ones – so hard to clean.

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