Bridging the Intention-Action Gap: Embracing Reusable Cups for a Sustainable Future

Bridging the Intention-Action Gap: Embracing Reusable Cups for a Sustainable Future

Posted by Huskee on 9th Jul 2024

Read time: 4 mins
In today's world, where the urgency to reduce waste and combat plastic pollution grows more apparent by the day, the concept of the intention-action gap has emerged as a crucial focal point. This phenomenon refers to the disparity between individuals' attitudes and their actual behaviours, particularly in the context of using reusable cups as an alternative to disposable ones.

As we delve into the complexities of this issue, it becomes evident that changing behaviour, especially when it comes to the ubiquitous disposable coffee cup, presents a formidable challenge. However, armed with awareness and actionable strategies, we can overcome this hurdle and make a meaningful impact on environmental sustainability.

To be clear, we don't expect that the onus of changing behaviour is solely the consumer's. We believe it is primarily the responsibility of the service providers, and by working to support consumer expectations and behaviours with simple and effective solutions, we can help overcome well-meaning intent to make action the reality. This means having solutions that are convenient and easy to do, to form daily habits as individuals, and often a variety of supporting mechanisms that meet the needs of both individuals and businesses. 

Embracing Change: Acknowledging the Urgency

The pressing need to reduce waste and mitigate plastic pollution cannot be overstated. With alarming statistics highlighting the detrimental impact of single-use plastics on our environment, it has become incumbent upon individuals, businesses, and society as a whole to take proactive measures. The adverse effects of plastic pollution on marine life, ecosystems, and human health underscore the critical importance of embracing sustainable practices.

In fact, despite all our efforts, single-use plastic production just continues to increase! [Minderoo Foundation]

The intention-action gap serves as a lens through which we can gain insight into the discrepancy between individuals' professed attitudes and intention to do good for sustainability...and their actual behaviours. This phenomenon has been extensively studied, revealing thought-provoking insights into the challenges associated with embracing environmentally conscious habits. Notably, numerous reputable sources have delved into this topic, shedding light on the nuanced factors contributing to this behavioural disparity [Doyle][ScienceDirect].

Unraveling the Complexity: Why Behaviour Change Is Challenging

The widespread use of disposable cups, especially when it comes to coffee, shows how ingrained habits and the appeal of convenience plays a big role. Whether it's the morning rush or the desire for on-the-go indulgence, disposable coffee cups are closely tied to our lifestyle choices and the pursuit of convenience. In many cultures, and in ours even 20-30 years ago, this throw-away service and economy was not the norm. The most effective form of reuse is simply stopping, dine-in and enjoy (assuming that is not served in single-use service). Now, we have structured our daily activities and patterns to be on-the-go and rushed due to habits and daily pressures.

Exploring the psychology of habitual behaviour reveals a complex mix of cognitive, emotional, and environmental factors that contribute to the resistance to change. The inertia of breaking entrenched habits and the comfort derived from familiar routines play a key role in the persistence of disposable cup usage patterns. Understanding these psychological dynamics is crucial for creating effective strategies to change behaviour.

Up to 40% of our daily activities are habits, get stronger over time, and on average take over 60 days to break or form [article]. So don't be hard on yourself if you have been trying, give yourself some time. 

Catalysing Change: The Role of the Coffee Industry

The pervasive influence of the coffee industry presents a compelling opportunity to drive widespread adoption of reusable cups. Encouraging coffee shops and establishments to actively support and incentivise the use of reusable cups represents a pivotal step towards effecting tangible change. By championing sustainable practices and offering incentives for customers using reusable cups, the coffee industry can play a pivotal role in reshaping consumer behaviours and perceptions.
As an industry, we can make a big impact. An often cited statistic is that close to 600 Billion single use coffee cups are produced each year [source]. This is just one waste product for the industry, and coffee grounds and coffee husk are other significant examples. Huskee tackles multiple waste issues by making HuskeeOriginal cups out of coffee husk waste, through our HuskeeSwap service, and HuskeeLoop end-of-life opportunity.

Practical Tips and Creative Solutions

Whether it's bringing your own reusable cup or practising environmental mindfulness, small changes in daily routines can make a big impact. These actionable steps help us take small steps towards sustainable consumption patterns and forming those habits we want.

Here are some fun and cheeky ways to change your behaviour and ensure you never forget your reusable coffee cup:

  1. Cupstash: Create a "cupstash" by placing your reusable cup in a prominent spot like by the door or in your car. This way, it's the first thing you see when heading out, ensuring you'll never leave without it!
  2. Keep a HuskeeCup in your car. If using a HuskeeSwap site, you don't have to wash your cup - you simply Swap it when purchasing your next beverage.
  3. Set a Reminder: Set a recurring daily reminder on your phone with a playful message like "Don't forget your HuskeeCup!" to nudge you towards sustainable sipping.
  4. Cup Buddies: Enlist a "cup buddy" - a friend, family member, or colleague who also uses a reusable cup. Keep each other accountable and share a chuckle as you both proudly whip out your cups at the coffee shop.
  5. Cup Charms: Spruce up your reusable cup with quirky charms or stickers that make it as irresistible to leave behind as your favorite accessory.
  6. The Guilt-Free Treat: Promise yourself a little treat or special coffee order every time you remember your cup. It's the sustainable sip that keeps on giving!


Remember, making sustainable choices should be as delightful as that first sip of morning coffee. So, let's gear up with our reusable cups and add a sprinkle of eco-magic to our daily routine!
In conclusion, bridging the intention-action gap with regards to reusable cups necessitates a multifaceted approach that encompasses awareness, empowerment, and collaboration. By channeling the collective momentum towards effecting positive change, we can pave the way for a future where sustainable practices are ingrained in our daily lives. Find an easy solution that works for you, and encourage your favourite cafes and friends to support your efforts. And be kind to yourself - changing habits takes time.