3 Types of Stylish Plastic Free Reusable Coffee Cups You Can Take Anywhere

Single-use coffee cups are a true environmental disaster. Why?

Since the concept of the coffee-to-go was invented, and it became very popular in the US thanks to Starbucks… most of us grew up getting our coffee from a “paper cup”, however we’re not familiar that these cups are not just made of paper… in fact,  They’re made of paper and lined with plastic (high density polyethylene or HDPE), otherwise they wouldn’t be able to hold the hot liquid. We have written another separate article that explains in detail how disposable coffee cups are made. They get thrown out in millions every hour or so, and are not easily recyclable.


The Environmental Issues with Disposable Coffee Cups

All popular coffee chains use single-use paper cups, and 500 billion disposable coffee cups are used globally every year, with approximately 1 million single-use coffee cups are sent to landfill every minute. In the United States alone, 16 billion single-use coffee cups are disposed of every year with the average American drinking three cups a day. This type of waste stream is, in fact, not recyclable unless it is processed by a specialized recycler. This alone is a reason to stop using them.


The Health Issues with Disposable Coffee Cups (Yes, also most Biodegradable & Compostable Cups!)

Yes, when hot water is poured into a disposable cup, the hot drink in a takeaway cup can become contaminated with tiny plastic particles in just minutes due to the contact with the plastic lining according to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials. Biodegradable and compostable coffee cups are not really better because they have a coating on them called “water-based dispersion coating”.

Don’t be fooled by the term water in that phrase, Water-based Barrier Coating (WBBC) or also called aqueous coating is used in food packaging to repel the flow of oil, grease and water through the material in order to be “water repellent”.  While conventional food packaging lining like PLA or HDPE are sheets of plastic glued to the paper or sprayed onto the paper base to leave a coating, aqueous coating behaves more like a fluid paint that soaks into the paper fibers, therefore becoming impregnated into the pulp of the packaging.

Furthermore a November 2022 study by the Australian Packaging Convenant Organisation (APCO) found high levels of polymeric PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) also called forever chemicals in one quarter of the 75 fiber based packaging types they analysed.

Based on this research, we strongly recommend to stay away from single-use food packaging and opt for plastic free reusable coffee cups.


Related: Is Microplastics Leaching into Your Coffee?


3 Types of Stylish Plastic Free Reusable Coffee Cups

Here are 3 types of stylish plastic-free reusable coffee cups that you can take anywhere.

This post contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. This helps us continue the hard work we put into researching products and solutions.

Important Disclaimer: While we take our best efforts to scout plastic-free products around the world, we are also aware that sometimes we need to make compromises for the funcionality of the product based on our brand values.


1) Reusable Stainless Steel Coffee Cups, Mugs & Tumblers

We trust that we have finally found the right solution for you if you are the type of person who enjoys having their coffee or tea with them while they are on the run.

A reusable stainless steel coffee cup is made of insulated stainless steel, which ensures that hot liquids remain piping hot while cold beverages remain icy cold. Some are double-walled, ensuring the exterior will feel cool to the touch. Its streamlined form renders it resistant to spills and suitable for rough use and extended transportation.

Plus, it doesn’t absorb or transfer flavor! So no matter what drink you fill this cup with, it will taste exactly how you want it to. Some people might not agree with us on this…

However, not all stainless steel reusable travel cups are built the same. Some have lids made from polypropylene, which we accept as it’s very hard to find 100% stainless steel drinkware. The good news is that numerous solutions currently employ stainless steel covers, such as the Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Thermal Insulated Bottle TK Pro!

Recommended Brands:

Our personal tip: buy your tumbler only in a brushed stainless steel finish!

Why? We tried a few tumbers and the powder coated paint on the outside fades and peels over time making your tuber look ugly. At I’m Plastic Free we stand for “buy once” products, high-quality products that exist for their longevity following the principles of the circular economy.

HuskeeSteel Reusable Coffee Cup

Image Credit: Huskee


Related: The Benefits of Switching to a Plastic Free Electric Kettle: 13 Recommended Products To Consider


2) Reusable Glass Coffee Cups

The reusable glass cup is the perfect way to make a difference in the environment while making your life easier! Its sleeve can be made from cork and rubber, so you can use it repeatedly without worrying about waste or damage. And because these cups are insulated, they’re perfect for keeping drinks hot or cold for hours. Some of them are large enough to be used as smoothie cups.

Plus, the lid has been designed with an innovative spill-proof design that lets you sip without spilling all over yourself—or anyone else who happens to be nearby!

Recommended Brands:


Related: 12 Best Non-Toxic Cookware Brands for a Healthy Kitchen


3) Reusable Ceramic Coffee Cups

A reusable ceramic cup is another eco-friendly reusable that eliminates the need for plastic or paper cups. It is durable and will last a long time, if handled with care, even with frequent use.

The advantage of using this cup instead of other mugs is that it will save you money because you do not have to buy new cups every time you go out or want one, and it’s one of the best options for people that like the taste of coffee from a ceramic material. It is also environmentally friendly because instead of using plastic or paper cups which take hundreds of years to decompose, these ceramic cups can last for several years without breaking down or losing their shape or color! (Just be careful of not dropping them!)

Another advantage of this plastic-free reusable coffee cup is that is is dishwasher safe, so cleaning it after each use won’t take much effort.

Recommended Brands:

  • Mora Double Wall Ceramic Coffee Travel Mug with Lid – Amazon USA
  • Kim Wallace and Bec English Ceramics from Biome Australia
  • Lyttelton Pottery


Related: 5 Easy Ways to Transition Your Family to Plastic Free Drinkware


Why We do not Recommend Plastic & Recycled Plastic Coffee Cups

We promote “plastic free” not just because of environmental issues but also because of health issues. As stated above microplastics has been found to migrate into coffee (or into any hot liquid). This is the reason why we think, if possible, to avoid this material when in contact with hot liquids or hot food. 


Related: The 17 Best Plastic-Free Coffee Makers: Enjoy Delicious, Guilt-Free Coffee Every Morning


Final Thoughts

The time has come to think about a more sustainable, plastic-free future. Thankfully, many forward-thinking companies have already cottoned onto this idea, no longer using plastic cups and containers. In the meantime, these types of stylish, plastic-free reusable coffee cups are a good start! And with how great they look and work, you can use them in any place or setting. 

Go forth, find your perfect match, and enjoy your coffee – whether from a cafe’ or from a plastic-free coffee maker – while keeping our planet and ourselves healthy!

Browse the I’m Plastic Free platform to discover plastic pollution solutions.


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