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Wastefree Waterfront Launches In Wellington For Use Your Own Cup Day

Friday 11 December is national Use Your Own Cup Day. A day to say no to single-use cups, to make time to sit down and stay at your favourite café, or to grab your coffee ‘to-go’ in your own keep cup, glass jar or ‘World’s Best Dad’ mug.

To celebrate the occasion, Wellington is launching the Wastefree Waterfront project – an initiative that aims to drive ongoing waste minimisation along the CBD’s much loved coastline.

Wastefree Waterfront is the brainchild of Simon Edmonds, owner of Tuatua Café, a wee café nestled in the boat sheds under Frank Kitts Park. Several months ago, Edmonds pledged to make Tuatua go totally waste-free for an entire week, from front of house to behind the scenes.

“I wanted to have a go at making Tuatua zero waste and to share the story with others to show that it is possible. But I didn’t want to do it alone. I thought it would be great to see if other outlets along the waterfront wanted to take part and do something too” says Edmonds.

To achieve this goal of building a wider community of waterfront waste minimisers, Edmonds has collaborated with Use Your Own Responsible Café Guide, the Takeaway Throwaways campaign, zero waste educators The Rubbish Trip and Waste-ed, and Wellington’s local zero waste store, Hopper Refill.

Together, they have supported a number of the waterfront’s eateries to pledge to give out no single-use cups at all on national Use Your Own Cup Day. This band of SUC-free cafes includes Te Papa Tongarewa (New Zealand’s national museum), Karaka (the café in Te Wharewaka o Pōneke), Circa Theatre, Gelissimo Gelateria, The Enormous Crocodile and Shake, Kaffee Eis, Black Doris, Food for the People, Bin 44, Raglan Roast, and the waterfront branch of Mojo.

“We are super happy to support Use Your Own Cup Day – we know coffee is a national treasure to Kiwis, we want everyone to get their caffeine fix in a sustainable way”, says Kate Camp, a spokesperson for Te Papa.

A fleet of Wellington’s social media influencers and foodies have been recruited to document each café’s story and to run giveaways and other surprises in the lead up to the event. The public can take part in the action by checking out @wastefreewaterfront on Instagram.

Wellingtonians are being encouraged to come to the waterfront to take part in Use Your Own Cup Day. All that’s needed is for avid drinkers of coffee, tea and chai to remember their reusable cup, pledge to take five minutes to sit down and ‘have here’ in the café’s in-house crockery, make use of one of the 8 mug libraries set up around the waterfront, or take their coffee ‘to go’ in an upcycled glass jar.

The mug libraries and the reusable glass jar system have been devised by the collaborating organisations behind Wastefree Waterfront, who wanted to offer participating outlets an alternative to throwaway cups for their customers who love the convenience of ‘to-go’ but always forget their own cups.

“We put the call out to the wider Wellington community to donate their used glass jars to the cause. We got hundreds. They’ve all had their labels removed through a community working bee and will be sanitised in commercial sterilisers before being distributed to the participating cafes by a troupe of volunteers on bikes, kindly donated by Switched on Bikes ” says Ali Kirkpatrick, co-founder of Waste-ed.

Meanwhile, the mug libraries have been built using unwanted wood offcuts from a local workshop. The mugs have been collected by The Tip Shop at the Southern Landfill and donated to the cause.

If all this isn’t enough to entice you to the waterfront, the Wastefree Waterfront team have organised a series of pop-up events throughout Use Your Own Cup Day and the day after as well.

Events will include a ‘Tiny Shed Concert’ of ecologically-minded music at Tuatua Café, ‘mug hugger’ making workshops (including one at Wellington Museum on 10 December, the day before Use Your Own Cup Day), workshops crafting belts out of upcycled bike tyres, zero waste smoothie-making on blender bikes, human libraries of zero waste experts, and a team of ‘bin serenaders’ who will be using music to help the public return their glass jars and mugs to ‘reuse bins’ instead of rubbish bins so that they can be sterilised and do another round. Find more information at the Facebook event page.

“When we choose to reuse it not only says no to the waste and carbon emissions that go hand-in-hand with disposable packaging. We also build community and connections. We make time to stay. And what better place to do that than on a waterfront, with the sea in front of us and the sky above?” says Laura of Use Your Own Responsible Café Guide, the creator of national Use Your Own Cup Day.

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