The solution to paper cups is easy... and it involves happy dolphins
Here’s how Vessel works: walk into a coffee shop, order coffee, and say you want it in a Vessel. After you’ve signed up and given them your credit card through a mobile site (an app is forthcoming), you simply scan a QR code on the bottom of the stainless steel mug and they pour your drink into it. Oh, and you get to see an illustrated dolphin say thank you! Easy peasy.
If you bring the cup back within five days, there’s no charge. If you forget to return it, they charge you $15, though they’d rather you bring the cup back and check out another Vessel. “The cafe pays for each cup that goes out the door as opposed to the paper cups,” Tucker said, noting that it’s either less expensive or costs roughly the same as paper cups. Right now, eight coffee shops in Boulder use Vessel, but the plans are to roll out the stainless steel cups nationwide.
If you know anything about Boulder, it’s that it’s crunchier than a Butterfinger. If you know nothing about it, I got you. People here care about the environment. And even these Phish-loving, Tesla-driving, hemp-humpers use paper cups. “Even in a community like Boulder, the average coffee shop will have about 1000 pours a day, and see less than 10 people per day bring in their own cups.” Tucker said it’s because we’re busy, and it’s easy to forget your cup. And she’s right! I have at least five stainless steel mugs in my kitchen, and I never bring them.
But then I used Vessel. And when I dropped off my Vessel at Boxcar a couple days later, I brought in one of my own stainless steel mugs. They poured a cold brew into it, and I felt good about myself. Even though I didn’t use Vessel again, I made a choice I could be proud of. My action had an unintended consequence, but it was a positive one.
“Once one of our cups has been used 23 times, everything after that becomes an environmental benefit over a paper cup or a disposable plastic cup,” Tucker explained. “If you start to quantify those numbers, they get pretty big really fast. And this is the whole emphasis behind this, we’re all making these little choices every day, which, as individuals, don’t seem like a really big deal, but collectively turn into massive impacts.”