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.