The Sustainable Cup Challenge is Good To Go!

Good to Go cup in New York CityNew York is famous for being the city that never sleeps. The hustle and bustle is a big part of what makes the city so exciting, but being always on the go comes at a price. That price is coffee. Lots and lots of coffee, in lots and lots of disposable cups.

For the past five weeks, our 18 Fellows have been trying to find a solution to the seven million plastic and paper drink cups that are used and discarded every day in New York. As you know, they threw themselves into the Challenge from the word go. They talked to city officials and leading experts, interviewed coffee shop owners and researched materials, and even bravely approached some of the city’s most hardened caffeine addicts to get an insiders view into the real appeal of a disposable coffee cup. After 4 weeks, the Fellows sat down with this mountain of research and put their heads together to show off the kind of entrepreneurial thinking that we had chosen them for in the first place. The results didn’t disappoint.

Recognizing that the to-go cup culture in New York City is not a problem that can be solved with one quick fix solution, the Sustainable Cup Challenge Fellows have adopted a three pronged approach. Under the umbrella of their GOOD TO GO brand, they plan to tackle the problem from all angles. First up, the Fellows have collaborated with a number of coffee shops to introduce a Fast Lane for customers who are using reusable cups. For the impatient New Yorker on the go, the chance to beat the queue could be a great incentive to give up on paper cups.

 Secondly, they have made the bold move of introducing a groundbreaking cup sharing scheme at selected coffee shops. A deposit system will allow customers to buy coffee in a reusable GOOD TO GO cup and take it with them on their morning commute or tour of the city, before dropping the cup off again at participating location nearer their final destination. Our Fellows have generated considerable interest in the scheme and the first 1000 cups have already been sold to various coffee outlets, so all that remains is to see how the customers will react. The press in New York are excited, and the Wall Street Journal has already featured the initiative. We can’t wait to see how it goes!

Finally, the Fellows know how important it is to get people on board with their ideas, and to spread the word about what GOOD TO GO is trying to achieve. With this in mind, they are creating a ‘cups canvas’ to challenge public conceptions about the worthlessness of disposable cups. 18 artists will come together to paint on canvas made of used coffee cups and thus create something meaningful out of a material would normally be thrown away without a second thought.  The team will wrap up their Sustainable Cup activities with an event where people can have fun with a ‘mug shot booth’, view the cup canvas paintings, and discuss the ideas and success of the projects over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.

It is going to be a very busy few weeks for our Fellows, and we are incredibly excited to see what kind of impact they can create during the rest of their time in New York City!

Good to go logo for the sustainable cup challenge


You can check out the GOOD TO GO website for more info on the mission, goals and events schedule, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and insider updates.


Florian Hoffmann

Florian is passionate about finding innovative solutions to solve social problems. He founded the DO School as an organization offering innovative executive programs to today’s emerging entrepreneurs and leading organizations. In addition Florian regularly contributes to the ongoing discourse on innovation, education and youth unemployment through articles and talks.