What inspired Coffee Cup Collective?

I'm Alison Rogers, founder of Coffee Cup Collective. I'd like to tell you a bit about my story and how Coffee Cup Collective came to be.

My mom is a big walker. She walks many, many miles a day, but she’s not any old walker. She collects trash along the way. As a kid, it was SOOOO embarrassing to go for walks with my mom and her bags of trash. Okay, sometimes it still is!

Like I said, my mom can still be embarrassing!

My dad is a big sailor. He has taken me on countless trips from a very young age. Together, my parents helped me develop a love of and respect for the outdoors.

I was lucky enough to learn how to sail from an early age. We probably shouldn't tell the Coast Guard that I would refuse to wear a life jacket.

Here’s a story I remember vividly. It was my first time sailing offshore. I was in middle school. It was beautiful. Imagine no land in sight for a few days, being confined to 40 feet for a few days. It was truly a magical experience. UNTIL… I saw a bundle of balloons floating in the ocean.

Where did these balloons come from? How did they get here? Why was mankind intruding on this natural oasis? Have you ever wondered where your escaped balloons end up?!

As I got older, I began to appreciate my mom’s efforts and it solidified my frustration with finding trash where it did not belong. My mom most commonly collects food packages (water bottles, grocery bags, coffee cups, chip bags), balloons, and cigarette butts while on her walks.

The boat is aptly named: P.U.-E II, a play on the Q.E. II.

I’ve tried to do my part to reduce waste: I use a reusable water bottle, grocery bags, I don’t have a car, I don’t use balloons, I even went so far as to work on a pumpout boat for a few years! Yes, I pumped poo! I didn’t want it to get into the water! I didn’t want to swim in it!

I cannot, however, change my lifestyle completely. I lead an on-the-go life and rely heavily on to-go food.

I recycle what I can, but that too has limitations. Why can’t we eliminate the waste before it goes to our landfills and recycling centers (which by the way, is super expensive for cities and towns!)?

No one has really solved this yet. I’m on this journey to solve my personal dilemma. Specifically, I can't go without my morning coffee. I love buying it at cafes. I always forget my reusable cup, and I feel so guilty about my habit because I care about the environment.

I’d like to introduce you to Coffee Cup Collective, a solution to my personal dilemma that might be yours too. It’s the coffee cup equivalent to bike sharing. We distribute clean cups to participating independent coffee shops. Customers subscribe to our service, enjoy their coffee, and then deposit their cup for us to collect, clean, and redistribute.

We’re on a mission to make being environmentally responsible convenient and attractive. This means strategically placed return bins, an intuitive app, a cup that you want to be seen holding, and a bike-powered distribution network.

We held a small pilot in downtown Boston last December and learned a lot! We learned that people love the mission and love the concept. We’ve been taking our lessons learned to launch in Boston later this year!

I ask you to think about what you do everyday and what you can change to help create a better tomorrow. Join me. Join the Collective. Let’s change the paradigm of the to-go food industry!

Fun fact: Boston handled about 260,000 tons of solid waste and approximately 44,000 tons of recycling.

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