Some Coffee with Your Plastic

Wanstead Village has nine coffee shops on or close to the high street providing a valuable ‘morning pep’ service and solving the snack requirements of the famished, but how many of these are conscious of their plastic waste and actively taking steps to reduce it.   

In 2018 the BBC reported:  99.75% of disposable coffee cups were not recyclable or recycled and only 1% of customers used reusable cups. The number of disposable coffee cups used every year on average is about 16 billion worldwide. 

A survey carried out by the Wanstead Climate Action, as part of their #PlasticFreeJuly campaign yielded some encouraging results.

Here is our guide for some guilt free guilty treats and liquid stimulation that won’t turn planet Earth into planet coffee cup:

5SP – owner Raj Madhani

 5SP, the newest coffee shop on our high street located in the old Time for Tea shop, uses Paper cups with compostable plastic lids and bringing your own cup will get you 10p off. 

Currently they are looking to switch to selling Hildon Water in glass bottles with a 5p discount on your next purchase when you return a bottle. And are researching eco-friendly options for sandwich packaging. 

 They have added a green wall outside and are hoping to work with the council to paint the railings and fix the pavements to rejuvenate the Snaresbrook end of the high street.

 Bare Brew – joint owners Gemma and Lisa 

Paper cups with compostable plastic lids are available at Bare Brew with a 20p bring your own cup discount. They have cardboard takeaway boxes and wooden cutlery. They offer a ‘Keep’ cup for £1 as part of their point-based loyalty scheme. 

They do sell plastic bottled water but are open to switching to glass. 

Bare brew has invited Panda Packaging, a company specialising in products made from natural materials specifically to combat rising plastic pollution, to offer more packaging solutions for their products.

 The Larder 

 The larder uses compostable cups, plates, and cutlery. 


Currently use paper cups, plastic lids and plastic cutlery but have a 20p off discount if you bring your own cup.


 Costa offers the biggest discount, 25p off for your own cup, and recycle any of their takeaway cups if brought back to the store. The cutlery offered is plastic and so are their water bottles.

 City Place – Co-owned by Jane and Mark

 All cups at City Place including smoothie cups are biodegradable or recyclable, they don’t offer any discounts and have switched back to plastic after receiving complaints about their wooden cutlery. 

 La Bakerie 

 Proved to be the best with paper cups and compostable plastic lids, 20p off with your own cup, paper straws and wooden cutlery. They are also bringing in glass water bottles and have ambitions to go 100% green packaging. 

The Barrel Boulangerie 

 Is a mixed bag of paper cups with plastic lids, paper straws and plastic cutlery.


 Has both plastic and wooden cutlery with plastic coffee stirrers and paper straws.

It is easy to see there is no coordinated effort (not just on our high street) to curb plastic waste even at the lowest consumable level. 

Adopting a “Shrewsbury Cup” type scheme, could collectively save local Baristas money and reduce waste. The idea is to take a deposit per coffee cup which can be used as a refill or redeemed at any coffee shop in the area for the value of the deposit.  

Even though there are flaws in these schemes, more of these types of innovations are needed to reduce the demand for plastics in our everyday lives.      

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