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The City of Portland, Oregon

Sustainability at Work

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How one company is curbing coffee cup waste

Three people clinking reusable coffee mugs

Gold certified Nossa Familia Coffee, a local roaster with three Portland cafes, takes sustainability seriously. They’ve looked for ways to make each step of the coffee growing, roasting, and serving process more sustainable, including energy-efficient roasting, purchasing 100% renewable energy, and reducing packaging wherever possible.

Earlier this year, they tackled disposable coffee cup waste, encouraging customers to use washable, reusable mugs rather than throw-away cups. Here’s how they did it:

Shifting the default away from throw-away

On Earth Day 2019, they changed their pricing based on the type of cup customers choose:

  • To-stay mugs: no charge
  • Bring-your-own mug: 25-cent discount
  • Disposable cup, lid, sleeve, etc.: 25-cent charge

They implemented this change at all three of their cafes after a test run at their SE Division cafe showed a substantial increase in the number of customers choosing “for here” cups or bringing their own mugs for coffee to go.

Lending a hand…or a cup

They've also set up a cup “lending library,” where customers who forgot a travel mug can grab a clean mug, and people who have extra mugs can donate them for others to use.

 Nossa Familia Coffee's sign for Little Free Cup Library Reusable cup lending library

Reducing disposable coffee cups is part of Nossa Familia's larger sustainability program. Learn more about their efforts to reduce waste and their environmental footprint company-wide at

What YOU can do to reduce coffee cup waste

If your office provides disposable cups, dishware or utensils, set up reusable dishware in your kitchen or break room. If you don’t have funds to buy mugs, host an ugly mug contest, encouraging people to bring in old mugs from home or from thrift shops.

Do staff go out for coffee a lot? Set up travel mugs by the door so they’re hard to miss and easy to grab.

Go big with borrowing

Did you know that Portland has free lending libraries for home and garden tools and cooking tools? You can also swap kids' toys in Woodlawn and St. Johns. Or check-out all sorts of things at the Library of Things in Beaverton or Hillsboro.

Find more ideas and resources for borrowing, reuse, repair and shopping smart on the Resourceful PDX blog, map and events calendar.


Learn more