Just like smartphones, takeaway coffee seems to have taken over our lives. When you walk down any busy street or sit down in the library, half the people around you will be sipping caffeine from a cardboard cup. But our indulgence comes at a cost; just one takeaway drink per day creates over 10kg of waste each year. Our caffeine habit hurts the environment – but it doesn’t have to. Here are six reasons why you should give up disposable cups and invest in a reusable coffee cup instead.     

1. It Reduces Waste

The 2011 Coffee Cup Summit.

erin & camera on Flickr

Protecting our environment is the main reason to quit disposable cups. A staggering 10,000 cups are thrown away in the UK every two minutes, totaling over 2.5 billion each year. Consumers assume that cardboard cups are eco-friendly, but just 1 in 400 cups are actually recycled. To make the cups waterproof, the cardboard is fused with a plastic lining, which can't be separated from the cardboard in a normal recycling plant. This makes them extremely difficult to recycle, with only a couple of specialist plants in the UK making it possible.

2. It Saves Resources

Not only are cardboard coffee cups non-recyclable, but they can’t be made from recycled materials either. Their design includes one thin edge of cardboard that comes into contact with the liquid inside the cup, meaning that they have to be made from brand-new cardboard to comply with health and safety regulations. It's estimated that it takes more than 100,000 trees to fuel the UK’s coffee habit each year; a takeaway cup's lifespan is fleeting, but it leaves a hefty carbon footprint.

3. It Saves You Money

Not only does using a reusable coffee cup save trees, it also saves you money. Major coffee chains like Starbucks, Costa and Pret A Manger offer a discount when you use your own cup, with local coffeehouses adopting similar schemes – Taste, for example, will give you 15p off your drink if you BYOC (#bringyourowncup). Get into the habit of carrying your own cup and you’re also more likely just to fill it up at home and take it with you, saving you extra pennies.

4. It Keeps Your Coffee Warm

Ever walked back to the library or the office on a cold day only to find that your coffee is lukewarm by the time you come to drink it? With a range of durable insulated cups on the market, this is a problem of the past.

5. Your Coffee Tastes Better

Reusable cups eliminate the unwelcome taste of plastic in your morning cappuccino. Certain lids may also contain the harmful plastic BPA, which has the potential to contaminate your drink as well as your body if you frequently drink hot liquids through a plastic lid. Although there is conflicting evidence on the dangers of BPA, using a ceramic, BPA-free plastic or stainless steel cup avoids any possible health risk.

6. It's Stylish

The disposable coffee cup might seem like the fashion accessory of the 21st century, but with so many well-designed reusable cups out there (shout-out to companies such as KeepCup and Bodum), you’re guaranteed to find one that fits with your Instagram aesthetic. Making an eco-friendly statement is a better look anyway.

Sustainability as a student is totally possible. Throwing away one cardboard cup doesn't seem like much, but multiply that by the number of coffees you drink each year and the difference a reusable cup can make is clear. Changing habits takes time, but it's worth it. The environment is crucial to our well-being and to our future, and we should take every opportunity, however small, to reduce harm.