The problems with HuskeeCup – and what they teach us about ethical consumerism

Here in Australia we pride ourselves on our world-class coffee. The only problem is that pang of guilt every time we throw one of those plastic-lined disposable cups into the bin – adding up to about a billion of them every year. So whenever a business comes up with an innovative way to reduce café waste, we’re all interested. And the latest kid on the block is the sculptural, award-winning, re-usable HuskeeCup by startup company Huskee and the talented Sydney team Vert Design.

From their website:

HuskeeCup is a considered, design-driven response to a mature reusable coffee cup market. Visually iconic and functionally sophisticated, HuskeeCup’s materiality boasts a unique eco-composite polymer which features coffee husk as a raw material.

Unfortunately, many of HuskeeCup’s Unique Selling Points – the same ones that have won it celebrity endorsements and prestigious industry awards – don’t seem to stand up to scrutiny, as we will see. So as Huskee continues to expand internationally, we should ask: why has there been no critical examination of HuskeeCup? How do we, as ethical consumers, cope with the complexities involved in deciding which products to buy? And given that Huskee’s success shows that companies, cafés and coffee-sipping consumers all have a huge will to act environmentally, how do we make sure our positive energies are deployed in the most effective ways?

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