Saturday, 08 May 2021
A COFFEE shop in Henley is encouraging its customers to ditch takeaway coffee cups.
Drifters in Duke Street is to offer them returnable ceramic cups or mugs instead to help reduce waste.
The café is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic but will re-open next month as the government restrictions are eased.
Millie Jeans and her fiancée Talia Maguire, who run the business, will also ask customers who prefer a paper cup if they would like to go “topless” — without a lid.
The couple, who live in Gravel Hill, say they are trying to do more to help the environment and cut down on litter as the bins in the town centre are often overflowing with takeaway cups.
They have been holding a “mug amnesty”, encouraging customers to drop off any unwanted ones so they can then hand them out to customers with their takeaway drinks.
Miss Jeans said: “Although we are not open at the moment, when we do, we don’t want to be part of this problem.
“We spoke to Lynne Lambourne, who runs Warriors on Waste, who said this initiative was popular in Australia and it was a good idea.”
Customers who buy a takeaway drink can return a mug, which will then be cleaned and used again. Alternatively, they can bring their own mug. Coffees served in a takeaway mug will be discounted.
Miss Jeans said: “We have been having a doorstep dump for unwanted cups and mugs and have been putting them through the wash.
“There have been quite a few interesting ones as well as the ones you get with your chocolate eggs at Easter. We’ve had a Kate and Will one and a few from Starbucks, which we thought we could turn into loo brush holders.
“The funniest one had the message, ‘Will show knickers for chocolate’.”
Miss Jeans said most coffee shops were doing their best to be environmentally friendly by using compostable cups but there was still a problem with these.
She explained: “Compostable cups still need to be disposed of correctly. Unless coffee shops are able to collect them and send them off to be commercially composted they are just being mixed in with other rubbish in bins.
“These cups are also expensive to buy so by not having them we will be saving money.
“It would be great to work with other independent coffee shops in the town. If every one did this we would be really helping the community and would help everyone save money. We are really excited to be the ones to help start this in the UK and to show people how they can contribute in a small way.”
Miss Jeans said the couple had chosen not to offer a takeaway service during the lockdown because they wanted to support the message that people should stay at home to save lives.
“We have gone more online and done promotions for things like Shrove Tuesday, Mother’s Day and Easter and offering meal kits,” she said
“We have a loyal following of customers and know that we will be able to get through this when we re-open. We hope to open at the beginning of April and have been using the time to create a coffee bar area downstairs that is covid-safe.”
Ms Lambourne, an environmental campaigner from Peppard, said: “People think that if they chuck their compostable cup on the garden it will disappear but it won’t. Unless they are collected and disposed of in the right way it’s just more waste.
“They work well in venues where only that sort of cup is sold and are the only rubbish in the bins but in Henley those cups are about as much use as a chocolate teapot.
“These girls are such fun and have come up with the slogan ‘Don’t be a mug, use a mug’ and want people to use them or, if they insist on using a takeaway cup, then go topless, so you don’t have that little bit of plastic on the top. When all the shops re-open and people start to take up the Drifters initiative and see that it works, I will be going round the other shops to see if they will do the same.
“It would be great to buy a coffee in town and have a walk by the river and then drop off your mug at the Chocolate Café on the way back. We want to encourage people to come on board and say it’s cool to care.”
Jo Robb, who is a Green Party member of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “What Drifters is doing is fantastic.
“I’m appalled that people seem to think they can buy a takeaway coffee, find the bin is full and then just stick the cup on top or on the ground next to it.
“The message has got to be that if the bin is full take your cup home or, better still, get yourself a reusable mug and eliminate single-use cups from your life completely.
“I am so concerned that these lockdowns have caused us to go backwards in terms of sustainability.
“I have never seen anything like it in terms of the bins overflowing and the litter by the river at Marsh Lock and elsewhere is disgusting.
“People need to stop thinking, ‘the council will clean up’ because we are all responsible for reducing the amount of waste we produce.”
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