By Bernadette Thomas

    I’ve been using my own cup when I’m away from home since I started working in the waste industry in the 1990s. Back then it was hard work convincing people that taking their own cup was actually reducing their environmental impact. (It was especially hard since the government sponsored design wasn’t particularly enticing.)

    My transformation from disposable to reusable hasn’t always been smooth sailing – and I’ve tried and failed many times – but I discovered recently that I’ve used one disposable cup in about the last three years (yay me!) Kicking the habit takes time and focus. Here are my top tips for how to go about it.

    1. Commit

    Making the commitment to kick the habit and BYOC is the first major step. Like all other habits we want to develop, making the commitment to ourselves shows we are serious about making the change. It’s also important to let others know – your family, friends, work colleagues, coffee buddies and barista – so that they can provide much needed support when you look like you’re about to reach for that disposable, and reinforcement when you’ve managed to remember to BYOC every day for a month.

    2. Find a cup that suits you

    There are so many choices available – plastic, glass, ceramic, bamboo, steel – that you’ll find one that suits your drinking personality. I have a nice plastic version with an orange and yellow lid, blue base, and bright pink grip. I don’t mind drinking from the plastic cup, and I can throw it in my bag and not worry about it breaking. Finding your style of cup will help ensure that you take it with you always.

    3. Encourage a friend

    Encourage your family, friends, work colleagues, anyone that you drink with regularly to BYOC too. Together you can create the new norm in your social and family group/s. Social norms are important for getting people to change their behaviour – it’s a comfort zone thing, if everyone else is doing it, they might as well get on board. And besides, most things are more fun when done with someone else, and BYOC is one of them.

    4.Reward yourself

    Everyone likes a reward for doing the right thing. Set yourself an achievable goal (and change them over time as you get better at BYOC) and reward yourself when you reach it – perhaps a nice slice of lemon meringue pie at the end of the week! Some cafés give a small discount if you BYOC, so ask at your local. Once the habit to BYOC is entrenched, it will be reward enough knowing you’re doing something good.

    5. Long term success

    Remember that by kicking the disposable habit and developing your new BYOC habit you’re aiming for long term success. If you don’t manage the change immediately, don’t give up. Remind yourself of your commitment, grab your cup and your bestie, and head to the café.

    6. Say ‘no’ to a coffee in a disposable cup

    This is not for the faint-hearted or truly caffeine addicted, but the earlier you get used to doing it the better. Several years ago, I was in a Brisbane café with my partner and friends. It was a public holiday and the café was serving drinks in disposable cups (even though we were sitting in and the ceramic cups were right there on the coffee machine!). If this happens to you, take a deep breath, stand up tall, and ask if you can have one in a ceramic cup. If the answer is no then be prepared to say no to the coffee. I was lucky that day; the barista quickly realised she was about to lose a sale and acquiesced to my request.

    Disclaimer: Bernadette Thomas drinks soy hot chocolate and can be contacted for comment at

    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

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