When Jeremy Sargeant walked along Kuta beach in the popular holiday destination of Bali in the early 1990s, he recalls swimming in the pristine water and walking along the beach with nothing but sand between his toes.
Upon returning to the idyllic spot in 2016, he describes a completely different scenario.
“I couldn’t swim in the ocean and I couldn’t walk along the beach because of the volume of rubbish,” he says. “There were graders going up and down the beach all day long pushing rubbish into huge piles for collecting, and then dumping the rubbish into bushland. By the time the beach was cleared, the tide would bring in a fresh collection of rubbish.”
It was at that moment Jeremy and his wife Kylie stopped to think what personal behaviour they could change to make a difference to this increasingly harmful and disgusting universal problem.
“We’ve produced 200 billion tonnes of rubbish in the past 50 years of what’s called ‘disposable plastic.’ The rubbish in Bali extends from what’s dumped into the water from surrounding main islands, like Australia,” Kylie says.
The answer Jeremy and Kylie were looking for presented itself upon visiting leading international consumer goods trade fair Ambiente in Frankfurt. There they saw a collapsible coffee cup called Stojo that immediately captured their attention.
“My first question was, ‘how does it work?’” says Jeremy, Director of Kitchen Homewares.
They talked to the New York-based founders who shared the same desire to change people’s personal behaviour, considering Americans throw away approximately 58 billion disposable cups annually, through a device as simple as a reusable coffee cup.
Kitchen Homewares Managing Director Kylie says it’s no secret the industry has been presented with a variety of reusable coffee cups, but none quite like this.
“The first reaction to the cup is one of theatre and amazement because it collapses into a pocket-size disk. It’s brilliant,” Kylie says.
The Stojo founders would catch the subway on the way to work each day, then find their desks cluttered with disposable coffee cups and reusable drinking flasks. To ease congestion, their solution was to develop a compact collapsible cup with a sleeve to carry hot coffee or tea.
When you’ve finished your drink, simply apply some force – by hitting the Stojo on a wall, for instance – and watch the cup quickly collapse in itself in a concertina or accordion-like action into a 4.4 centimetre disk.
The cup’s silicone food grade and recyclable material is durable, Bisphenol A-free, and sturdy to withstand dishwasher use, knocks, drops, and handbag stashes.
Even if there’s that annoying mouthful of coffee left, the base of the Stojo pocket cup can hold up to 12.7 centimetres of liquid with a little silicone tab to airlock the remnants and withstand public transport travel, a gym session, or daily tasks without leaking. It’s also easy to clean and dishwasher safe. No bulk, no mess, just a lightweight, leak-proof disk that stows anywhere, from a pocket, purse, backpack, or briefcase.
“The idea is to create a bit of theatre while changing someone’s personal behaviour by doing not too much at all,” Jeremy says.
“Most people buy a coffee in the morning, but quite often the takeaway coffee cup they drink from has no home to go to once it leaves their hands. Often it’s straight to landfill and many don’t break down.”
The Stojo made its debut to the UK market at the end of 2015 and was launched in Australia in August 2018 at the Australian Gift & Homewares Association expo.
“It was interesting to see people’s mindset on sustainability,” Jeremy says. “The good thing is that more people are thinking about it than we realise. A lot of people want to make a difference but don’t know how to go about it.”
One easy way to start making an impact is using the Stojo, which is now available in Australia through major retailers including David Jones, House, Kitchen Warehouse, General Trader, Everten Online, and selected cafés.
The great incentive for cafés, Kylie says, is that the Stojo Pocket Cup at RRP$24.95 contains an indicator mark on the inside of the cup for measurements of eight, 10 and 12 ounces.
A larger product called the Biggie at 470 millilitres holds 33 per cent more volume than the Stojo Pocket Cup, and comes with a reusable straw. This item is ideal for iced drinks and smoothies at RRP$29.95.
Already Jeremy and Kylie are seeing Stojo items sold in volumes of two, indicating that buyers don’t want to just invest for themselves, but encourage a friend or loved one to make the personal change too.
This Christmas, Jeremy and Kylie have made plans to return to Bali for a holiday. Jeremy says while evidence of a permanent change will be slow, he’s hoping to notice an improvement in the island’s waste situation.
“I first thought it was a problem we could never solve, but we can,” he says. “It’s a serious topic but we hope through this fun and convenient cup we can encourage coffee consumers to do something good.”