Going Green

I wanted to expand a little on one of my goals for the year. I said I wanted to go green and mentioned that one of the big sources of waste for me was disposable coffee cups.

I do want to go on record to say that I’m not going to judge someone if they use a disposable cup… You do what you gotta do. Instead, I’m sharing what I’m doing and why I’m doing it and if it inspires you to do the same, great. Even if it inspires you to cut back a little, great. Even if it just makes you think twice before getting one, great.

Because I work from home, I generally drink coffee… at home. Which means I have the luxury of using mugs and glasses for my coffee and water. I don’t have to worry about transporting them around or spilling on my way to work– it’s a short commute between my kitchen and my desk 😉

But because I work from home… I use going to coffee shops as an excuse to get out of the house a bit. By mid-afternoon, I’m usually going stir crazy and need to get out for a bit. I typically eat lunch out because of this and grab a coffee on the way home (or eat leftovers and then go get a coffee). Sometimes I end up making a second trip even later in the afternoon/early evening if I have a particularly heavy workload. Those cups add up.

Honestly, I never really thought much of it. But last year I started making (small) “green” changes to my lifestyle about waste and health (like this and this). And it’s a little bit like a snowball effect here. Once I made one change and realized how great it felt (and how easy it was), I wanted to make another. And another.

Instead of thinking of it as a complete lifestyle overhaul, I think it’s easier to focus on one habit at a time. It’s so much more manageable that way, and at the very least, it feels more “doable” than trying to go from sixty-to-zero-waste overnight.

All of a sudden, my coffee cup consumption seemed outrageous and I knew I wanted to add it to my list of efforts.

I’ve pretty much stuck with Tervis Tumblers and S’Well bottles because those both pass my “mug test.” I primarily use them for water during workouts. But I wanted something more coffee specific. I took to Twitter and got a TON of great suggestions. (There was also a thread in my blog’s private Facebook group– I encourage you to join there if you haven’t already! I love it!)

And, in full transparency, I knew that something “new” would excite me for the challenge. I’m not saying that’s the best mentality but it definitely worked for me. I was excited about it and I haven’t forgotten it once yet. Per everyone’s recommendations, I went on the hunt for two Yeti tumblers– one to replace the typical “to-go cup” and one for when I need to throw something into a bag. 

Something I didn’t expect happened though:

Yeti Tumbler

I like it BETTER than the to-go cups.

Going into this, I felt like I was going to be doing a sort of sacrifice for this. (Not in a martyr kind of way, but in the sense that I felt like I was doing something less convenient and less “good” for me in an effort to be better for the environment.)

What I didn’t expect was to like it better than the disposable cups. There’s been a slight adjustment to my daily habits, but the benefits way outweigh them. For example, I can’t to mobile order for Starbucks and I’m skipping my usual afternoon cappuccino for drip coffee instead*. At best, that saved me two minutes of my time. And is waiting in line, engaging with the barista, and skipping a fancier more expensive drink really horrible? Not at all.

* So everything I read online says that if you order a specialty drink and bring your own cup, they still use a plastic/paper cup to make/measure the drink for health and accuracy reasons, which would defeat the green part. Not sure if that’s the case everywhere so it’s worth asking your go-to spot what they do. 

I also found that tumblers do their job really well. (Like almost too well in some cases because I’ve already burned my tongue twice fifteen minutes after I brought the coffee home.) Because the coffee stays so hot for so long, I’m able to thoroughly enjoy it without wasting a single drop. (Those paper cups don’t keep coffee hot for very long and who wants to drink lukewarm coffee???) I love that I can get a coffee on my way home from lunch, keep it on my desk, and drink it an hour or two later when I’m ready for it. Or savor it throughout the afternoon– every sip as hot as the last.

Anyway, just wanted to share my experience in case you’re considering doing the same. It’s been great so far!


To answer some of the questions I got about my other green habits I’m working on:

Most of my “workhorse” dishtowels (i.e. not my decorative ones) got lost somehow during my move. I only have three right now, and we’ve been overusing paper towels. I’m a big paper towel girl as it is, again, not proud of it. So this is something else I thought I could more easily change. I had some reward points from Williams-Sonoma so I used them to buy a couple of sets of dishtowels to use instead of paper– these are my favorite for the kitchen and they wash wonderfully.

I mentioned that I have already mostly stopped using plastic bags for groceries/errands. (I have a collection of canvas totes from random brands and shops that we use– but I’m going to hunt down a Baggu that I can fold up tiny to keep in my purse for when I find myself out and about and in a pinch.) However, someone asked what I do about plastic bags for dog poop. I still use small plastic bags for that. I have these that are supposedly “better” for the environment and are at least made of recycled materials, which might be as good as it gets for picking up dog poop? Open to suggestions if you have them, but my thought process is that keeping streets/sidewalks/parks healthy and clean for kids/people/animals is worth the bit of plastic.

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I love to hear about how you’re going green, and can’t wait to read more about how you accomplish this goal throughout the year. I’ll have to check the Yeti tumblers, and you’ve totally inspired me to get a Baggu bag for those last-minute grocery shopping trips. 🙂


Love this post. It makes me happy when I see influencers using their reach in positive ways like this. In addition to travel mugs, I recommend also keeping a set of basic utensils (fork/knife/spoon) in a small container in your purse to avoid having to use plastic utensils when out and about.


And you can still enjoy a fancy special coffee by drinking it at the cafe 😀 (if they serve in mugs…). I would love a foldable coffee cup, I don’t generally get take out coffee and on the rare occasion I do I would love something I can drink on the train then throw in my bag without having to haul a massive tote along.


Yay Carly! I have been going greener and greener too, it’s awesome and now is sort of a hobby. We are recycling and reusing fanatics, did you know the UPS Store will take your packing materials to reuse? Maybe you could do a post where everyone shares their small steps and we can all pick up some new ideas.


Mentioned this in a recent post but I highly recommend reusable produce bags! Such an easy switch and I even find them more enjoyable to use!


I second this! I recently bought my best friend a set of these for Christmas and she’s obsessed!


I love my yeti! My parents bought one for me as a birthday present and I was not so excited about it. But once I started using it, boy do I love that tumbler. I normally start out with my coffee in the morning and then transition to ice water in the afternoon.

Also, Rume has great reusable bags for grocery shopping. They fold up, are machine washable, and hold up to 50 pounds! I have a huge collection I leave in my car and take on vacation. I’ve given them as gifts and people love them!


You can still get the fancy drinks in a reusable cup (or at least you can at Starbucks in Chicago)! I do it all the time. They also give you a $.10 discount for bringing a reusable cup.


Another suggestion on going green in a small way- my brother actually inspired me with this one! He asked for reusable produce bags for the grocery store for a stocking stuffer. They were about $9 on amazon prime and such an amazing idea! I buy a ton of fruits and veggies at the grocery store and always use the plastic baggies- so happy to get something that will eliminate all that plastic! I haven’t tried washing them but by the looks of it they would probably wash well.

Ms. Mary M. Motta

Starbucks retails cold and hot cups that their drinks can be made in without using the paper or plastic cups first. Since it’s to their sizes, that makes sense. So if anyone’s big into Starbucks and still wants to go greener, that’s an option for you.

Caitlin Honard

I have a suggestion for dog poop bags! It might not be SUPER helpful, but basically use any plastic bags you already have instead of buying new ones just for dog poop. The most sustainable items are the ones you already own. If you forget to bring a reusable bag to the store, don’t throw out or recycle the bag they give you; save it for dog poop. You have to get rid of the bag anyway, so you might as well get a second use out of it first.

The biodegradable ones are a nice idea, but only effective if you compost them in a commercial compost facility. You can’t compost dog poop in your back yard compost bin, and in a landfill the biodegradable bags won’t get any air to actually biodegrade unless they happen to be on the top of the pile and aren’t closed in a plastic trash bag.

Not the most encouraging comment, I realize, but hopefully it’s at least a little helpful! 😊


Such a great point! I feel guilty because my husband ALWAYS gets plastic bags at the grocery store and that’s what we use for our dog’s waste, but purchasing specialty plastic bags seems counterproductive. It’s good to know we’re already doing the best we can!


I love love love my Yeti! I have two- one in maroon for “fall/winter”a and one in a seafoam green for “spring/summer”. I ordered initial decals from Amazon in Lilly patterns to spice up the look of the mugs. The ice for my cold drins stays in the Yeti for 24 hours. Love them!


You probably already do this, but when I go out, and do not have a reusable bag with me, and get a plastic bag, I will make sure to use those plastic bags for dog poop before using the “real” doggie poop bags! My mom once tried to use paper bags to pick up the poop…the results were not very good ahah!!

xoxo Libby


We are so obsessed with the Yetis – I used to make a cup of tea before leaving the house, then go to the gym – by the time I had showered and dressed, etc, it was perfect to drink!
Two things that I have found – first, if you put them in the dishwasher, take the black magnet bit off the lid (otherwise it can get a bit ick) and also the straw lid is awesome for cold drinks (I got mine at either Whole Foods or REI)

That Kate

I stopped using paper towels a couple years ago and haven’t looked back since. The easiest way for me to do that was to just not have them in the house. I have a few sets of the cheap Target-brand bar mop towels that are $5/6 or something like that and use those as “paper towels” since they’re inexpensive and washable and can be bleached if they get dirty or need to be extra sanitized. I probably have 20 towels sitting in my pantry so they’re always ready to go. I also don’t feel guilty for getting them stained or gross since they’re not “pretty” to begin with.

For really bad messes (cat vomit haha) I use paper napkins. While it’s still a paper product, I find myself using fewer napkins than I would paper towels. A pack of 300 napkins has lasted me approx 2 years so I don’t feel too bad about my paper product consumption.


Have you heard of Stasher bags? They are basically reusable silicone bags that are machine washable. Same concept, but will last longer!


Washing ziplocks is bad bc plastic is permeable! Buy stasher bags (target or amazon, among others) which are reusable silicone bags that can go in the dishwasher! They are great.

Sarah B

Love this post Carly! Looking forward to hearing more throughout the year about lifestyle changes you’re making.

I’m an attorney and always grab a coffee on my way into the office. For the last 6 months I’ve been forgoing paper cups and having my coffee in the cafe. It takes an extra 10 or 15 mins of my morning but i sit and read the paper and know all the baristas by name now. I can’t see myself ever going back!


I love some of these! I have reduced my impact in using one time use plastic items this year. I recommend getting a reusable straw like the Final Straw or a bamboo straws to use at restaurants or with to go cups. Great post with good ideas:)


Those Williams-Sonoma dish towels are the best!! My mother has used them since I was a little girl, and now I use them! They are the only dish towels I will use.


Good for you Carly! My husband loves his Yetis for coffee and my sister just got one for Christmas, too. Personally I love the feeling of a hot cup of coffee on my hands (I’m always cold) and I find my coffee never tastes as good in a tumbler! Plus, I hate the dreaded burnt tongue as you mentioned! But, I rarely get takeout coffee and always always use a reusable water bottle!

xo Jules


When people with so much influence live more environmental consciousness there is still hope for our planet. Please more suggestions and thanks for these steps!


Just wanted to say thanks for mentioning that this is something you’re doing, not something that you’re judging others for. I have a disability and need to use plastic straws for a number of reasons, and have been increasingly frustrated at the number of bans that have cropping up, city-wide, without fully considering people’s different needs. It’s great to see you doing something for the environment, and sharing with others, without coming across as judging others who cannot do the same.

June Pope

We have stopped accepting and using straws at diners and restaurants. I don’t care to use a straw much anyway, maybe only when taking something in the car and it needs a lid. I plan to buy some paper straws to keep in the car. Not a big thing, like you said, but it’s a start.


I’m also trying to work on cutting down the single-use cups so this is great motivation!

We use compostable dog bags ordered off Amazon because we’re lucky enough to have municipal composting (and they welcome compostable bag animal waste disposable). I couldn’t find compostable ones in large enough quantities locally and the rest were just biodegradable, which isn’t the same apparently. The brand we use is PET N PET. Hope that helps!


I love this, and not using non-reuseable cups is a goal of mine as well. I’m a Starbucks barista, and we are always happy to use a personal cup to make any drink you’d like!! Iced drinks might be a little trickier because we use the lines on the cup to measure milk, but it is absolutely doable and so worth it to limit environmental impact.


I’m not sure what they do at Starbucks, but at most coffee shops they don’t use the paper cups to make drinks. If they have ceramic, you could also just get your fancy drink to stay.

A Girl, A Style

I absolutely loved this post Carly! I’ve also been trying to improve my environmental footprint. In Australia we were raised to be really conscious of recycling and plastic and water usage, so I love that it’s gone mainstream now, and I’m trying to double down on my efforts.

One thing you might like (as I know you’re a fellow L’Occitane fan) is that you can take all your empty beauty products (most is not able to be recycled with your normal household recycling – especially pumps and caps) from any brand to any L’Occitane store and they recycle it via Terracycle + you get 10% off in store too. Such a great concept that I hope more big brands will adopt this year!

Briony xx