Keeping ‘Cup’ appearances – just a trend?

It was a Tuesday morning, I was running late for a big day. No time for coffee.

‘I’ll grab one on the way,’ I told myself, ‘I’ll use my KeepCup.’ It was at that moment, like clockwork, that I heard it. The sound of glass shattering echoed through my kitchen. I looked on in what I can only describe as a state of frozen despair.

Not my first, but my second KeepCup, taken too soon from this cruel world. With no time to mourn I swept up the shards and rushed to catch my bus, going without coffee that day because “surely I can’t use a paper cup after all this time”. It was then that I decided to go back to the beginning, what are these reusable cups and where did they come from?

My first stop, George’s Street. On this street, the coffee shop Granthams had moved from their sit-in-cafe space to its existing space in Camden Market, opening a “Pop-Up” Coffee shop by Diarmuid Gavin near Dunnes Stores.

I wondered if, as a take-away coffee shop only, they had seen a rise in people drinking coffee from reusable cups. Upon entering I saw a sweet women behind the till. I struck up conversation and then informed her of my article on keep cups, asking if I could interview her on her experiences in the coffee shop. She looked at me in amused bewilderment, “KeepCups?’ Strike one.

From there she directed me to Austin, the head barista, who knew all too well about reusable KeepCups. He spoke about how reusable cups popped up one day and became the latest craze. “In the last year or so, people will come in with Christmas or birthday gifts that are KeepCups. People are incentivised to use KeepCups, especially with us as our other branch in Camden Market offers 20c off if you bring in one.”

“They became a craze for a while where everyone was using them, but it’s as though they became a hindrance so we wanted to see how we could improve on that and get people using them again.”

With the coffee industry continuing to grow while global warming worsens, have these changes, along with the potential discounts encouraged people to use reusable cups? I took to the streets of Dublin to find out.

As I walked down South William Street, I spotted a girl on the steps of Powerscourt, plastic KeepCup held proudly in her hand. Plastic not glass, clever. “I bought a KeepCup when I started noticing the build up of coffee cups on my desk. After a few days I would be surrounded by paper cups, and it was then that I really start noticing the waste,” said Paula O’Rourke, 24, from Dublin.

“I think the discount is a good idea to get people to use KeepCups but I don’t know if it is enough. People won’t just use them for 20c off their coffee,” she said.

As a student, I wondered if maybe the idea of KeepCups, in theory, is good, but how many people actually own them, and is there an element of guilt if you still use paper cups? Rory McGrath, 21, from Cabra had a different opinion: “I don’t own a reusable cup and I feel like paper cups aren’t that bad. For me, it’s the plastic lids that are the problem.” When I asked if he felt guilty about using paper cups instead of a KeepCup his response was very well thought out. “No, I think KeepCups are a good idea, but at the end of the day I think there is a lot more everyone could do for the environment, rather than just using a reusable cup.”

So, after an in-depth look into the reusable coffee cup scene, it seems people’s opinions are torn. Are reusable cups just the latest trend and are they a step in the right direction to a more eco-friendly world?

One thing’s for sure, I will be drinking from a plastic KeepCup from now on.

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