Somewhere across the course of human evolution, we have entered the age of convenience. Regardless of our material economic status, more and more of us are time-poor, ensuring that retailers and consumers rely heavily on disposable packaging to ensure a quick and easy turnaround. This may be useful to a customer in the short-term, but this shameful waste is having a hugely detrimental effect on the environment. Life appears to be full of packaging – a considerable amount of which ends up in landfills and ultimately our seas and oceans.
Thankfully, it would appear that the powers that be are finally starting to wake up and smell the coffee – literally. Parliament has called for a so-called ‘Latte Levy’ aimed at major coffee chains such as Starbucks, Costa and Eat, who offer their hot beverages to millions of daily takeaway customers in disposable cardboard/plastic cups, either with or without the ubiquitous plastic spoon or straw. Regardless of whether we make our best efforts to recycle these use-once-and-toss vessels, the vast majority end up dumped in landfills and left to rot due to the complicated process and complex materials used in their creation. In fact, they don’t rot – certainly not enough to help the environment. On examination, an untold amount of pieces of plastic are found in our animals and indeed fish stomachs. The rest is washed up on the beach..
The upshot of this proposal is that an additional charge of twenty-five pence should be applied to any takeaway coffee order that’s served in a non-degradable drink holder instead. This is sure to make a difference, with an estimated 2.5 million cups tossed in the UK alone each year without a second thought – and that is an exceptionally conservative estimate. The aim of this is to make our population think about what they are doing – but will it work? Years were spent on convincing people to recycle their plastic shopping bags – and even now, with a visit to a supermarket, you can still see people filling their home shopping into plastic bags in spite of the 5p levy on the purchase.
A cynic may roll their eyes at this suggestion, accusing corporate giants of simply profiteering. In defence of these retailers, experience speaks volumes – several chains have previously attempted to offer discounts to eco-friendly customers that brought their own containers but the initiative did not catch on, suggesting that the use of a stick will be more effective than a carrot in this instance. Checking any distrust at the door, history also suggests that this eco-friendly approach to getting caffeinated in the morning will catch on following a period of adjustment. As the sharp decline in usage of plastic bags following the ‘5p tax’ introduced in 2015 shows, people are nothing if not adaptable, especially when faced with the prospect of digging deeper into their pockets and receiving nothing in return. Supermarkets who deliver offer a better solution – send the bags back after each time you shop, and get a refund. There are good reports on the effectiveness of this method, but can we do the same with coffee cups? And just how long will it take – it’s all a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’.
A recent report stated that on visiting branches of various coffee companies, good souls who handed over their own containers to fill, were met with counter assistants who poured the coffee into plastic cups, and then transferred the coffee to the customers own container! Most concerting was that the servers then tossed the plastic cups into their normal waste bins! Pretty pointless exercise, and certainly not encouraging!
All the same, any supporter of the Save Our Seas campaign would be perfectly entitled to question just why it has taken so long, having fought long and hard to encourage people to rethink the way they dispose of plastic. Is this latte levy a genuine attempt at making the world a better place, or merely a smokescreen and a flash-in-the-pan exercise in PR? Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on (and the latte levy is certainly not without prominent critics), at the very least it will cause customers to think twice about their habits. In addition, if the initiative shines a little more light on the business practices of major manufacturers there will be fewer opportunities to cut corners in the future. We must work together as a society to maintain this pressure, and play our own role.
So, how can you avoid accruing the additional costs to your wallet and the planet of paying this latte levy? Don’t panic; technology has come a long way since the heyday of the bulky camping Thermos. A HydrateM8 Insulated Water Bottle is the perfect solution, thanks to dual technology that keeps cool water refreshing for up to thirty hours, and more pertinently, hot drinks warm for up to eighteen hours.
Simply prepare your coffee at home in your Insulated Water Bottle, or fill up at the coffee shop of your choice during your morning commute and you will be able to relax safe in the knowledge that you’ll be able to enjoy your beverage at its optimum temperature, no matter how long your train may be delayed or how many traffic jams you find yourself trapped in. On top of this, you will also be doing your bit to aid the environment, and keep the forests that coffee beans grow within healthy. If you hope to continue enjoying your delicious caffeine hit for many more years to come, an insulated bottle is the only choice.
Reusable drinks bottles, it’s the only way to go.