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The Cup Project
By Brigitte Sistig


The Cup Project – A community tackling single-use cups 295 million single-use cups end up in New Zealand landfills per year. With no legislative change in sight, Grey Lynn 2030 Waste Away (GLWA), a local sustainability initiative, partnered with 30 organisations, businesses, and schools to set about finding ways of encouraging our community to refuse, reuse and upcycle with the aim to reduce the use of disposable cups. ‘Koha Cup’ was created; a reused glass jar with a locallyhand-made cup holder crafted from recycled or natural material.


Four local schools and GLWA members started collecting used glass jars at local collection points, including the supermarket, the library, and the reuse station at the farmers’ market. Pic’s Peanut Butter and Chantal Organics also donated some of their own jars with new jar lids. Students, teachers, parents and members from the community created different designs for heatbands/ cup cosies to transform the jars into attractive takeaway cups.


Due to COVID-19 Lockdown, the launch of The Cup Project was deferred to 1 July 2020, coinciding with the first day of world Plastic Free July. The project was run as an 8-week feasibility study to collect data on the usage of single-use cups, keep cups and koha cups across six Grey Lynn cafes. Baristas were trained on how to engage with customers about the concept of Koha Cup. Schools embraced this opportunity to strengthen their enviro groups and work together with community. The project also helped further build and educate community through skill development by offering free craft workshops where people could get together to make gorgeous Koha Cup heat bands. Over 400 Koha Cups were created and circulated at the six cafes. The data analysis will be available at the time of the presentation.


Numerous community groups have expressed interest to establish something similar in their own neighbourhoods. Based on the trial’s experience, Koha Cup kits are being developed with the intention of sharing them with the wider community, and funding is being sought to offer community workshops so people can make their own Koha Cup.


The Cup Project is a grassroots initiative that connects with a wide range of businesses, environmental organisations and the educational sector. Its simple yet creative approach appeals to a wide cross-section of community and it has received nationwide interest. The concept empowers communities because it is down to earth practical, doable, accessible and fun!


Brigitte Sistig

Grey Lynn 2030 Transition Community / Grey Lynn 2030 Waste Away

Brigitte joined the GL2030 Trust and Waste Away group in 2016 as a volunteer. She has
been leading several community-based waste minimisation projects, extending a wider
network, and thereby enhancing the organisation’s place in the community. Her interest is
broad and involves exploring ways of bringing people and their environment together, may
this be through communication, hands on involvement, research, or collective action. Brigitte
has enjoyed volunteer work in collectives and grassroots organisations for many decades.
The Cup Project is her most recent participatory action research-based project to be involved in.

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