Zero Waste Coffee on the Go

Last year, someone at my office circulated a recycling quiz, where we could test our knowledge of what is and isn't recyclable in Chicago. And, that was when I first found out that all of those paper coffee cups aren't typically recyclable, because they're lined with plastic. (Cue me trying not to think about how many of those are thrown away every day. Yiiiikes).

But, good news: those coffee cups are one really easy thing to do without, and once you set yourself up with a few good reusable alternatives, you won't even miss them. These days, I arrive at coffee shops with my reusable thermos in hand, and no barista has ever told me I can't use it. Often, they're happy that I'm forgoing a disposable cup, and I'll even get a discount for bringing my own cup! Good karma, yes?

In case you need some ideas on how to make the switch away from paper, here are some of the many options you can use instead:

1. Purchase a reusable thermos, and bring it along to the coffee shop. I like this Kleen Kanteen, whose cap is lined with stainless steel so that your hot beverage won't touch plastic.

2. In lieu of buying a new travel mug, bring along a mason jar. Use a jar with a handle to protect your hands from the heat, or wrap a napkin around a handle-less one to serve as a reusable coffee sleeve.

3. Or, hey, bonus points - knit a coffee sleeve for your jar to protect your hands! The one in the photograph at right I made for a friend. It's a simple project even for beginners.

4. You can also order your drink "for here." Many coffee shops offer the option of using ceramic mugs instead of paper cups, and I often take them up on it when I have the time to sit and relax for a while. This is also a good option to turn to if you don't have a cup of your own with you.

If you bring your own container, just take note of the size (usually 12 or 16 oz), so you can tell the barista in case they ask.

What is your usual coffee shop mug of choice these days? Any other tips for the rest of us? Happy Thursday, friends - may yours be well caffeinated.