Travel experiment: no disposable cups

travel mug

I travel quite a bit for work. Recently, I realized I have a habit of using a lot of “disposable” cups while I travel. As a rule, I rarely use disposable cups at my desk and at home. I think the environmental impact of throwing away cups is ugly at best, and even using a paper cup that will be recycled means it still has to be manufactured in the first place. So, I decided to challenge myself on my most recent trip: could I possibly fly, drive and stay in hotels without using a single disposable cup? I am happy to report I succeeded! Plus, it was actually surprisingly painless. Here is what I learned:

  • I carried a travel coffee mug to use as my all-purpose cup. I took one that was not very valuable, just in case I should lose it.
  • My mug of choice had a handle which I could use to attach to my shoulder bag. I happen to have a bag with a removable strap, so I just unclipped it and slipped my (empty) mug on. I could just as easily have used a carabiner-type clip to attach my mug, though.
  • I put my mug inside my bag in public restrooms. (Ick!)
  • I washed my mug out using whatever soap was available. The only time I ran into a problem was in a restroom with no paper towels, so I just let the mug drip dry as I walked around.
  • My mug did not fit under the spout of the coffee maker in my hotel room. So I brewed the coffee into a glass and poured it into my mug.

Will I do this again? You bet! I estimate I avoided using at least 10 disposable cups (next time I will try to remember to keep count). This was really simple and it is a habit I could get into.

For my next challenge, maybe I will try to avoid using paper towels at work. I guess I could take a dish towel in and hang it on the back of my office door to dry…


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