Reduce Single Use in Coffee Culture

Coffee has always been a huge part of our lives at Sweet Start.

We started roasting our own green beans to give guests in our Sweet Start Suite a unique way to start their stay on the Sunshine Coast. It was a hobby for friends and family.

When we decided to start selling at Farmers’ Markets in Gibsons and Sechelt, BC on the Sunshine Coast, we were hesitant.

The to-go coffee culture is one of single-use. Look inside a trash bin inside or outside local coffee houses and the bags are full of single-use paper cups, plastic lids, straw stirrers, and plastic milk bottles.

In fact, according to Eight Ounce Coffee’s website, ” The City of Toronto alone estimates that over a million paper coffee cups per day enter their mainstream landfill. Most disposable cups are lined with polythylene, which makes them non-recyclable.”

The question we asked ourselves was “how can we share our love of coffee – without contributing to the waste?”

Here are a few ways Sweet Start Coffee tries to minimize the waste of coffee we serve and make:

  • We use natural, 100% recycled filters for our pour-over coffees at the markets
  • We serve our brew free of charge in ceramic cups that customers can use to walk around the market. There is nothing like seeing folks shopping for produce with a white ceramic in their hands.
  • We will put coffee in a to-go container or mug that a customer brings free of charge.
  • For an additional $.25, we will use compostable, biodegradable to-go cups with a plant-based lining for those customers who want a coffee on the go.
  • We use rice pasta stir sticks for the coffee – which is eatable and/or compostable . . . and gluten-free.
  • The bags we sell our freshly roasted coffee beans are made from 40% recycled fibres, lined with a plant-based lining and are compostable and/or recyclable (once you remove the tin tie.)
  • Our cream for the coffee comes from Avalon bottles. The bottles are rinsed and returned to the local store to be reused.
  • We have a jar exchange program for our routine customers where we put their order of beans in a mason jar (1/2 pound or 1 pound) and exchange it for the empty jar upon pickup at a local market.
  • We buy ethically sourced, traceable green beans for roasting

These are just a few of the steps we are taking to reduce the single-use culture of coffee. We, along with other coffee vendors, have a long way to go.

But we can’t do it alone.

As customers, there are a few things you can do:

  • Bring a to-go cup for your favourite beverage
  • When you don’t have your own mug, take the time to sit and enjoy a cup in ceramic mugs at the coffee shop
  • Buying a treat? Who doesn’t love goodies? Bring your own “paper bag” such as a beeswax wrap, produce bag or plastic container
  • Avoid going through the drive-thrus or using apps for coffee pick-ups. While fast, the default is to put your brew in a paper cup.
  • Take your own metal straw or spoon for stirring.
  • Take your own cloth napkins.
  • Keep a cloth bag in your car or bag for purchases.

Together, with small steps, we can make a huge impact!