It’s more than just the ‘BYO mug’ trend.
‘Sustainability’ has been a buzz word thrown around; but is it just a fad? A quick search on Google Trends showed that the term has been buzzing since the late 2000s and was peaking towards the end of 2019. Sustainability is now mainstream. Loosely defined as the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level, ‘sustainability’ lies in the eyes of the beholder – everyone has a different take to it; but, it definitely takes more than just bringing your own (BYO) mugs to get you daily cup of joe.
‘Voting’ with your wallet and picking brands whose values align with yours, and enable you to live a more sustainable lifestyle, is another way you can make a difference. Sustainable living is not complicated; mindfulness is everything.
Share the world’s anti-plastic sentiment? Reducing single-use plastic and replacing them with a more sustainable option is key to tackling the plastic waste crisis. Recycling plastic is tougher than simply using sustainable alternatives – so do not over rely on it.
Adopting circular strategies and having net-zero emissions are admittedly difficult for companies to achieve – the world is currently only 8.6% circular and nowhere near limiting global warming. While companies innovate, collaborate and demonstrate their willingness to create closed-loop systems, us as consumers also have a part to play – back their values by choosing to spend your monies with them.
Start small – BYO
Do not get us wrong; BYO mugs is a great first step to take. Aside from saving actual cash when you BYO mugs to cafés such as Starbucks and Kraftwich by Swissbake, you are reducing the usage of single-use containers, or even the need to recycle them, and thus leading to less carbon footprint. Starbucks also encourages diners to BYO reusable bags on your coffee runs, and reduce wastage of straws, stoppers, napkins and more by taking only what you need. It is vital to note that even the most minuscule effort can bring about positive impacts. Only when there is an optimal interaction between environmental, social and economic elements, sustainability can be ensured a long-term success.
‘Vote’ with your wallet
While more and more brands are being increasingly socially responsible and open about their sustainability efforts, many cafés have been doing that since the very beginning. The Social Space, a beautiful multi-concept social enterprise promoting low-waste, conscious living and inclusive employment, is one of them. Instead of plastic bags, The Social Place uses shopping bags made of cassava starch which is 100% compostable and edible. Even their takeaway coffee cups and takeaway food containers are made of edible ingredients, like corn starch and sugar cane. Single-use plastics are definitely a no-no there. Aside from food and beverages, socially conscious goods that encourage a zero-waste and plastic-free lifestyle are also available for purchase. Beeswax wrap to replace single-use cling wraps, pens that can be planted after use, package-free soap and shampoo bars, a raillery section for customers to refill essentials such as laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid, can all be found in one space.
Say ‘no’ to plastics
Other than BYO mugs or tumblers, it is also now common to see café goers reducing the use of straws and bringing their own carriers instead of using plastic bags. Aside from Starbucks and Kraftwich, many other cafés have also followed through and hopped on the ‘sustainable’ train to provide things such as non-plastic straws, ethically sourced coffee, and giving diners the option to opt out of having take-out cutleries. Places like The Sandwich Shop and The Daily Cut use plastic cutleries that are biodegradable. It is simple things like this that make being sustainable not feel like a chore; you can enjoy the best of both worlds – savour coffee and treats while playing a part in being a sustainable rockstar.
Close the loop
It is a challenge – but companies like Starbucks are stepping up to it. At the start of 2020, Starbucks announced their multi-decade commitment to be a resource-positive company. Aside from storing more carbon than it emits, Starbucks also aims to eliminate waste and provide more clean-freshwater than it uses. Some strategies Starbucks is implementing include expanding its plant-based options to improve the environmental impacts of existing meat and dairy supply chains, and investing in better ways to manage waste like offering free coffee grounds to gardeners to use as compost. Imagine this, have a cup of coffee at Starbucks and the world gets a little bit better – how nice that would be.
Another company giving their best shot at closing the loop is retail store The Fashion Pulpit. Begun with the aim of offering chic pieces without hurting neither your wallet nor the planet, the one-and-a-half-year-old store is where you can swap, upcycle and mend your fashion items to prolong its life, instead of just buying in to fast fashion – one of the biggest polluters in the world.
Cafés and shops, being frequently visited, are great starting points for people to be more conscious about living a sustainably life and to play a part towards being a more sustainable society. It is only through ensuring economic viability, having a negligible or positive impact on the environment, so that it can naturally support the retail industry for an indefinite period of time, ensues that individuals in the society have a better standard of life.