Un caffè, per favore!

An article on Responsible Cafe's by ALEC Sustainability Officer Aurelie Favrele

When I lived in Venice, I adopted the habit of having breakfast outside, standing at the counter, getting a macchiato and briochein a beautiful caffè. The smell of orange blossom mixed with freshly ground coffee greeted me at the door, and I have to say that this morning routine is one of the things I miss the most about Italy.

When I arrived in coffee-loving Australia eight months ago, I was stunned to hear that Australians use an estimated 1 billion hot drink disposable cups and lids per year, most of which (92 %) are never recycled, mainly because it is too complicated to separate the paper layer and the plastic lining. Brought to the proportions of Mparntwe-Alice Springs, that would mean we send to landfill about 1.2 million cups per year!

Besides the daunting image of this ginormous mountain of waste competing in size with the MacDonnell Ranges, I am also deeply concerned about the health issues linked to the consumption of a hot beverage in contact with plastic. With the heat, the chemicals contained in plastic are likely to leach into our drink and threaten our health.

So I tried to look at all the ways we, coffee addicts, could reduce this ridiculous number and protect our health. I thought well, first of all, why not integrate a bit of dolce vitain our life and have our coffee to stay, in a real cup?

Then I was told about the inspiring and oh-so-simple “Responsible cafes” initiative (www.responsiblecafes.org), a worldwide community offering a discount to customers with a reusable takeaway cup. Of course, tea, smoothies and hot chocolate drinkers are not left out and also receive a discount.

Hayley Michener, who promoted the scheme here in Alice Springs, explained, “There are more than 30 local cafes that are participating in the Responsible Cafes scheme, and will offer a discount of $0.20 - $1.00 to customers who bring their own cup”.  

Some options for you to consider include:

  • Bring your good old ceramic mug from home
  • Make a DIY reusable cup out of a small glass jar and 2 or 3 silicone bands around it
  • Buy a reusable cup: in Alice we can find Franck Green ones (made of BPA free plastic or stainless steel), ONYA (food safe silicone) and Joco (glass cups).

In any case, the key is to be prepared, always keep your favourite cup in your bag or in your car. And if your favourite café is not (yet) a Responsible one, ask them to be a Responsible Cafe' and get them on board!

One last alternative is to invest in a good coffee grinder, a moka pot and ethically sourced and locally roasted coffee beans like DuYu Coffee Roasters' and make our own cuppa at home! The rhythm of the grinding movement, the smell of freshly brewed coffee floating in the air, the bubbling music of the coffee telling you it is ready will offer you such a unique sensory experience…

Ciao amici!


Australian Broadcasting Company http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-03/takeaway-coffee-cups-piling-up-in-landfill/7136926

[i]The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/feb/19/are-we-poisoning-our-children-with-plastic

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