Following a series of environmentally-friendly packaging changes in restaurants and cafes, such as banning plastic bags and straws, a café in Invercargill is also making switches of its own. While other cafés may offer reusable cups for purchase, Auction House café in Invercargill provides reusable cups, free to use for its regular customers, providing they are brought back to the café once finished with.

Owner of Auction House, Judy McNeilly said it was an easy choice to introduce the use of reusable items in her café and has received the support of her customers. Once the glass cups are returned, they are washed and reused in the café. The café doesn’t charge for the use of the cups or offer them on sale as McNeilly does not like the idea of charging customers to be environmentally-friendly.

“They’ve been a great success. Most people want to save the environment. It was never about how much it cost, I wanted to save on wasting the cups and wanted to give people that environmental alternative,” said McNeilly.

The café has also already brought in the use of compostable bags, wooden cutlery for takeaways, and recyclable containers to further cut down its environmental footprint. Following these switches, McNeilly has noticed progressive changes in customer mindset.

“From when I had Three Bean [Café] to now having this place, people are more aware of it. People will refuse a plastic bag until they know it’s recyclable. I’m trying to do away with as much plastic as we can.”