One Cup at a Time: Making Melbourne's cafe culture more sustainable

24 October 2018

One Cup at a Time: Making Melbourne's cafe culture more sustainable

Learn how you can also play a part in reducing waste

The Exchange at Knowledge Market recently ran One Cup at a Time, a studio exhibition showcasing design proposals for sustainable café systems in Melbourne. These projects were developed by RMIT Master of Design Innovation and Technology students, who drew inspiration from local cafes in Victoria Harbour.

By visiting cafes and interviewing staff and customers, students learnt about food waste and were inspired to develop practical solutions for these challenges. Design proposals ranged from redesigned coffee cups and waste bin systems, to urban gardens and community-based enterprises. 

One of the compelling designs featured in the exhibition was the idea of a shareable, part-time cup. It’s a concept that seeks to eliminate the use of disposable coffee cups by creating a specially designed bin system that washes biodegradable cups, so they can then be recirculated. The initiative eliminates the inconvenience of manually washing your reusable cup, so it’s not just sustainable, but it’s time-saving too. 

“One of the elements of the part time concept that has a lot of viability is the fact that it is going to be very easy for a coffee drinker to use” says RMIT studio leader and food waste researcher, Dianne McGrath.

Through her research, Dianne discovered that people are happy to be involved in more sustainable practices if they are easy to do. So here are our tips for how Victoria Harbour residents can tackle issues around packaging and food waste without changing their lifestyle completely.

Recycle packaging
It’s a simple practice that makes a world of difference – and is frequently forgotten about. By separating plastic, paper and glass from general rubbish, you’ll significantly reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators.

Get involved in the community garden
The Docklands Community Garden is a quiet sanctuary for Victoria Harbour residents. It celebrates growth, community living and sustainable urban lifestyles, making it the ideal place for workers and residents to source edible greens for their kitchen.

Composting
Did you know that you can compost coffee grinds? From vegetable scraps to egg shells and teabags, there are many organic materials you can return to the earth via composting. So set up a countertop composting system at your home or workplace then deposit it in your garden or the communal composting system at the Docklands Community Garden.   

Slow down
Where possible, take the time to sit down and enjoy your morning coffee instore rather than getting it to go. Slowing things down will help you appreciate the coffee and research shows that the more we connect with the food we eat, the less we waste.

Reusable Coffee Cups
You can also reduce your waste by purchasing a reusable coffee cup and using it at local café. Don’t have one? Enter our competition on the Victoria Harbour Facebook Page to be in the running to win a reusable coffee cup.

Small, deliberate actions can make a big difference over time, so never underestimate the power of a single change towards a more sustainable future for Melbourne.

And remember to support the cafes that are putting sustainable initiatives in place.

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