Habits with impact: the Ailuna “A week without single use cups” action

This series of posts explores each of Ailuna’s actions (sustainability training programs) in more detail, including an introduction to their creators, the reasons and issues behind them and some helpful tips, advice and resources to make sure you can take each action and earn your badge for succeeding! 

Not got the Ailuna app yet?

Download it from the App Store or Google Play Store now and select the “A week without single use cups” action to start building a new habit that will have a positive impact on you and on the planet.


4 minutes to read

A week without single use cups – why this action was created

This action was created by Ailuna co-founder Lars, who has shared his motivation for creating this action, as well as his tips for success.

Lars says: “Having worked in London for years, I have witnessed first hand – especially in the City of London – how many single use cups are being used and thrown away. With chains such as Starbucks, Pret, Costa and Nero on almost every street, it amounts to colossal waste, of which virtually none of it is reused or recycled. This is partly because it’s very difficult, not to mention expensive, to recycle cup material because of the way cups are created, but also because most cups are thrown into rubbish containers where they aren’t being sorted. Millions of the plastic lids end up in the oceans, which is hugely damaging.

So when I was deciding which action to create first for Ailuna, this one, that addresses single use cup waste head on, was the obvious choice.” 

Why is using reusable cups important?

Opting for a reusable cup rather than always going for the convenience of disposable helps reduce the unnecessary waste created by single use cups.  According to a report by the UK government in 2019, we use over 7 million single use cups every day in the UK. That’s 2.5 billion every year – and very few make it to a recycling plant. 

Picture this – if every member of the adult population of the UK was to buy one coffee per month for a year using a reusable cup rather than single-use, we’d avoid the use of 612 million single-use cups every year. 

But there are other reasons why reusable cups are a great idea. They are generally better to drink from, and a lot of them will keep your drink hot for longer. 

It’s true that you must keep on using your reusable cup in order for it to be more environmentally friendly than disposables. This is because creating a product with a longer life takes more energy and resources than single-use cups. However, the average is thought to be between 15 and 25 uses (depending on the cup you choose), so it’ll only take a few weeks of daily use to start making a real difference.

Do I need any special equipment or preparation before I start this action?

Apart from choosing a reusable cup (or using something you already have, which is always the best option), there is no preparation needed for this action.

When choosing a cup, it’s important to consider the following:

  • It’s of a design that works for you, i.e. satisfying to drink from and keeps your drink hot for long enough, or helps it cool down quickly if you like to drink fast!
  • You may also want to consider a leak-proof cup or flask, if you sometimes need to rush for the train, or would like to put your coffee in your bag to enjoy at your desk when you get to work.
  • It’s of a size which fits your bag. If your bag is small, consider a collapsible cup such as Pokito
  • Speaking of size – if you use your cup in the car, make sure it fits your cup holders!


Lars’ top tips for success

To give you the best chance of earning your Ailuna badge and progressing to stage 2 of this action, Lars has shared some of his tips for success:

  • Pick a cup you enjoy using and look forward to drinking from. Nobody wants to use products that don’t work for them
  • Remember your cup – and don’t keep buying new ones! If you keep forgetting it, it defeats the purpose.
  • Put it next to your keys or to the front door, so you remember it in the morning
  • Wash it when you get back from work, so it’s ready for next morning
  • If your coffee shop won’t accept your cup (and it’s of approved dimensions of course), find one that will. As consumers, we should vote with our feet.


Need help?

You’re never alone with Ailuna! When taking this action, you might find the Ailuna community is a big help. It’s full of people on a similar journey to you. So you can ask anything, judgement-free, and there’s a good chance someone else in the community will be on hand to help you out.

Related actions

If you’ve already completed this action, why not try the “Drink from refillable water bottles” action, or the “Plastic-free tea” action.