By Amelia Womack – Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales since September 2014
My love of a good cup of tea is unwavering, and I am unsure of a time that I have turned down the chance to have one. I have tea as my first drink of the day, tea when I travel and tea in the meetings I attend (admittedly along with a rejuvenating mid-morning coffee).
With 2.5 billion coffee cups being thrown away each year, I am proud that I carry my trusty reusable cup with me to make sure that my passion isn’t affecting the environment and adding to an escalating waste issue.
But in the years that I have been using my reusable cup, I confess that it has now become about more than just the environment. In fact, using my cup has a wide number of benefits for me, my wallet, as well as the planet.
To begin with, that morning cuppa I mentioned isn’t always a peaceful moment while preparing for meetings and getting ready to start the day, so I often pour that first cup of the day into my reusable cup and enjoy it while walking to the railway station, or drinking it on the bus. On top of that, without having to drink out of plastic throw away cups, the drink actually tastes better! This is because my hot drink isn’t exposed to an industrial chemical known as BPA’s, which we should all try to avoid consuming. That’s something that all true tea and coffee lovers can get behind.
It’s been incredible to see the rise in fellow cup users over the last couple of years. It’s also been interesting to see the change in attitude from cafes and coffee shops. Many now want to encourage us to stop using disposable cups, with some offering as much as 50p off your hot drink when you bring one. I can’t begin to imagine how much I have saved over the years, and that’s not even including the fact that I’m not paying for my morning one. I have even been given the occasional free tea or coffee from staff who are pleased to give a little extra to customers who are bringing a solution to our growing waste problem.
More heartening still, many places are now even banning the single-use cup altogether to ensure that they do their bit, encourage their customers to bring their own cups, or to buy a cup with a deposit return scheme, which means that you don’t create waste even if you’ve forgotten your cup that day.
The adventures I’ve had with my reusable cup spans the whole country and even parts of Europe. Once I even filled it with a beer at the Edinburgh Fringe when they offered me a plastic cup to take my drink into the show. Over that time, I have been seeing a growing change in attitude making it easier and easier to be able to use your cup and do your part in making this world a little bit greener.