Baby steps

Solution

Here's the thing: what this needs, is for people everywhere to think. But, mind-set change is the hardest thing to perpetuate.


The process of change is slow. People have been doing this for years, to suddenly get people to change over-night, requires 2 things: either a conscientious self-education of the imminent threat by the general public (by the time that happens, all this wouldn't even matter anymore)
OR, policy change. Bills need to be passed and laws need to be made.

Because, here is the larger problem. There are still countries where majority of the people are still struggling for food and clean water. Trust me the environment is not a high priority when you are dying of starvation. While all this does need to be considered, one cannot also do nothing by asking questions of the stars and getting lost in a vicious cycle of questions whose answers clash with each other.

So instead of thinking too big, start small:

1: Coffee shops need to FIRST start asking if people who come in if they want to drink in-house or do they absolutely need it to go: reduce half the waste by at least serving the in-house coffees in mugs.


2: For The people who really need it to go, start with fines for the paper-cups: as in, if you drink To-go, the cost will be 50 cents more (as an eg.only. The real cost needs to be examined more carefully)
 The thing with the detrimental fine is that it needs to be done by ALL coffee shops across the board or, people will simply switch to other stores to avoid the fine.

2.1 : If across the board is not possible, they can offer incentives, to make in-house coffee cheaper instead of adding a fine to the to-go version. Say, if you sit here and drink it, you get 50 cents off + 1 free refill

2.2 : Offer people incentives to bring their own to-go cup: 50 cents cheaper + 1 free coffee if they return the same day.


3: Make compostable cups to be used only To-Go.
This requires a lot of thought because the whole point is to reduce wastage. Therefore, the material used, should be compostable, like the potato-corn starch combination with possibly a non-heat sensitive natural resin coating.

4: Japan has the umbrella system where you can take an umbrella from any store and return it to any other. The same thing with coffee cups, rather adds the complication of hygiene, unless coffee shops offer to clean cups. So you can pick up a cup at any shop and return it to any other.
The IDEA being, give a deposit of $2 and then either return the cup to be washed or you wash and return (you get 1/2 off your next coffee). Again, unless all coffee shops embrace this, it wouldn't be as convenient.

5 : The other thing to seriously consider : STOP OFFERING COFFEE IN SO MANY SIZES

In europe, they have ONE standard size. what you see is people going to coffee shops, sitting, enjoying their at the maximum, 6 oz. of coffee and then leaving.
 
Why do people need 20 OZ?

If you want more, BUY more. Coffee shops offer it so freely, they are only cheating themselves out of a profit on the 2nd cup the customer WOULD have ordered anyway of he/she wanted more!