DIANNE COTTER: Why coffee cups?
ABIGAIL: We were working in the cafe industry and just saw the rise of disposable cups. The amount of packaging involved would make your eyes water and we thought, there must be a better way. The broader philosophy is that we want people to question the impact of their daily habits and make changes accordingly.
What are we up against if we keep using disposable cups at this rate?
It’s going to be our children saying: “Why are there no polar ice caps?” And we will say, “’Cause we wanted to drink out of disposable cups”—plus a whole lot of other things. It’s a tiny problem in the global waste crisis, but one that says convenience is a big cause of a lot of the world’s ills.
You guys started the reuse revolution. Tell me about that.
We created Reuse HQ where people can go and pledge their reuse and see the aggregated effect of doing something small. How do you measure the impact of not doing something? In the end, sustainability is about reducing consumption, and that is not an appealing thing to market. We say the best reusable cup is the one you use. It doesn’t matter which one, just use it and keep using it.
How do you think KeepCup is changing the way we think about sustainability?
When KeepCup started, you were either green or not, and I believe what KeepCup has done is said, “The conversation is bigger than that.” We all need to do something and instead of arguing about the best solution, we allow people to do something and start a journey. Hopefully we have saved some disposable cups from landfill but more importantly we have set people on a path to think more mindfully about how they consume.
What’s your favourite KeepCup product?
I still like the KeepCup original the best.
I love the warm grey and brown tones but have been drawn to the bright side.
Yes! I love the pastel range. What have you learned from your journey so far?
Mostly, just to be honest and frank and clear about what you are thinking, what you are feeling, and then other people will give you the same back. Also, own it, trust yourself and the passion that you have for the business—and believe that you are the right one to lead it.
Describe the world you want to live in.
How fantastical can I go? A world where all children are raised in a safe home by people who are good to them and love them. Just imagine if everyone’s life began like that.
Meanwhile, this isn’t the first time we’ve caught up with Abigail. She’s Dumbo Feather alumni! Watch a video of our chat with Abigail in 2012.