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Helping cafes form the habit of reusables

Single-use is so 2020!

They say it takes takes 21 days to form a new habit… and what better habit can we get into than ditching the single-use and using reusables!

This inspired us to trial a new campaign with Plastic Free Townsville members @thequarterstsv, @specialty_coffee_trader, @tashasplace_tsv, @thecoffeetreetsvcollective, @shaka.goodfoodculture, @kdsvegantakeaway. From the 8 - 29 January 2021 (that’s 21 days in case you’re wondering) we worked with these cafes to supercharge and normalise the number of customers using reusables, culminating in #UseYourOwnCupDay on Friday 29 January! 🙌


Each week, the cafes tallied how many of their customers used reusable cups, with the goal to see the percentage of reusables increase each week as their awesome customers started to form the new habit of reuse.

On #UseYourOwnCupDay, we worked with them towards achieving the highest number reusable cups possible.


As part of the campaign, we worked with participating businesses to encourage and support their customers to increase reusables by:

● displaying “Reusables Preferred Here” posters so that customers felt comfortable to BYO.

encouraging customers to take ‘me-time’ and dine-in if they forgot their own cup.

having a conversation with customers about the campaign, or simply mentioning that reusables are welcome.

● encouraging customers to be ‘responsible influencers’ and take selfies with their reusables, with hashtags #byoselfie and #byomugshot.

● The Quarters had a visible tally board indicating that they were aiming to beat their current numbers of reusables. Customers with reusables could chalk up their cup to inspire others to support the business’s aims.

● Coffee Tree Townsville Collective and the Island Shaka Van are now offering reusable coffee cup swap systemGreen Caffeen, which allows customers to borrow reusable cups and is free to café owners and customers.

● Specialty Coffee Trader and Tasha’s Place are selling their own branded glass reusable cups.


There was a marked increase in the use of reusables for all cafes involved. Comparing the last week of the campaign to the first:

  • 75% increase for Specialty Coffee Trader.

  • 45% increase for the Island Shaka van in Nelly Bay.

  • 48% increase for The Quarters, who are always well-supported with reusables.

  • 34% increase for The Coffee Tree Townsville Collective.

  • 47% increase for KD’s Vegan Takeaway, who do not serve coffee, instead participating by encouraging customers to BYO containers.

  • More regulars remembering their reusable cups at Tasha’s Place (no data recorded).

“We had an amazing Use Your Own Cup Day! We are very excited to see how the numbers increase over the coming months of 2021. We are always so happy to see our customers bring in their reusable cups and we highly encourage it.”

Specialty Coffee Trader

“Some people didn’t know that we accepted reusable cups and started bringing theirs in once they saw the signage that reusables were preferred, and staff just mentioning it to regulars also helped.”

Tasha’s Place


Across Australia, 2.7 million single-use throwaway cups are discarded every day. They cannot be recycled in kerbside collections due to their plastic lining. They contaminate the recycling stream, end up in landfill, or worse, in our environment.

Our throwaway culture devalues all of us... everything and everyone 😢. We want to build a reuse culture and show that reuse is possible and more beneficial than single-use to businesses and our communities.

The concept of a ‘Use Your Own Cup Day’ was inspired by UYO.NZ which started in New Zealand in 2018 and we’re excited to bring it to Australia. We ran this campaign in each of our Plastic Free Places communities (Adelaide, Perth, Cairns, Townsville and Byron Bay).


We’ve been so blown away by the feedback and are now developing a toolkit so other cafes can follow suit, increase their use of reusables, reduce their costs and the impacts their business and customers have on our environment.

We each have the opportunity to make positive changes this year, we just have to make a start. ⁣We believe BYO reusables shouldn't just be one day of the year, it needs to be every day.. we just need to create the habit!

P.S. Reusable cups are allowed under Qld Covid restrictions in a contactless pour.

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