Picture yourself relaxing on a lazy Sunday morning. Is your warm cup of coffee or tea within reach? Now think about your last party on the perfect summer evening. Chances are you had a drink in your hand and were toasting a celebration with friends.
Visualizing your favorite moments shouldn’t be interrupted by concerns for the environment over your choice of drinkware. Toxic emissions and plastic pollution are not relaxing or something to celebrate. Luckily you can keep raising your glass to friends, family, and relaxation by making a simple switch to bamboo cups.
Why Bamboo Is Great for Cups
Bamboo is a great material for eco-friendly cups. It’s a renewable resource that doesn’t take harmful pesticides to grow. The natural material is non-toxic and is perfect for keeping drinks warm or cool because it won’t transfer the temperature like ceramic, steel, or plastic.
Unlike trees, it can regenerate itself and grows so quickly that the same plant can be harvested 6-10 times over 30 years. Cups made from bamboo are lightweight, but very long-lasting because bamboo fiber is stronger than steel. If you ever manage to break your bamboo cup, it’s also compostable so you can rest easy knowing it’s quickly returning to the earth.
Bamboo Cups Compared to Other Options
Plastic Cups Compared to Bamboo
Plastic cups are a popular choice for parties and events. Unfortunately, those red plastic cups everyone’s singing about take 450 to 1,000 years to break down. And even then they’re just turned into microplastics that pollute our oceans.
Reusable plastic cups are a better option than disposable paper cups, but we still need to be aware of the environmental impact of plastic production. The plastics industry contributes 14% of total US air toxins every year.
Alternatively, bamboo is a natural resource and is typically harvested by hand, leading to very few emissions during harvest and production. Even better, bamboo takes as little as eight weeks to decompose.
Paper Cups Compared to Bamboo
Paper cups are a common option for disposable cups. While paper does break down more quickly than plastic, it still has a pretty big impact on the environment because of the sheer amount of trees needed to produce all the paper products we need.
Twenty million trees are cut down each year to make the 58 million paper cups we just toss away. Considering trees take 30+ years to grow, we are cutting them down a lot faster than we can regrow them. Bamboo on the other hand is one of the fastest-growing plants on earth and can be harvested every 3-5 years for up to 30 years! We don’t even need to replant it because it regenerates itself.
Ceramic and Steel Cups Compared to Bamboo
Ceramic and stainless steel are both better options for reusable cups than plastic. Stainless steel is incredibly durable and long-lasting. Sadly, the production of steel hurts the environment due to the toxic air emissions and wastewater contaminants.
Ceramic mugs are a more environmentally friendly option than steel because they’re made from clay, a naturally occurring material. While chemicals are sometimes used in glazes, hand-crafted pottery is not usually harmful to the environment. The only downside is that ceramic is not easily recycled and doesn’t break down very quickly when discarded. All those broken cups can take thousands of years to decompose.
What to Consider When Buying Bamboo Cups
Cups is a broad term. If you type it into the Google machine you’ll have approximately 6.9 Billion results (true story). When shopping for a bamboo cup, it’s important to think about what you want to use it for. If you’re commuting to work, look for a cup that has a lid and straw. If you’re replacing your everyday drinking cups, look for sets with varying sizes. With so many options on the market, you can find bamboo cups to suit every need.
Ease of Use
When it comes to dishes, I tend to be lazy particular. I don’t want anything that will need too much maintenance and I want my items to last. There’s no delicate crystal in my house. I want a cup that can hit the floor without shattering and cleans up in minutes when my guests leave. If you’re like me, look for cups that are durable, reusable (or eco-friendly if disposable), and easy to clean. Most bamboo cups just need a quick wipe and rinse. Flip them over to dry on your bamboo dish rack and they’ll be ready for the next day.
Some studies show that when melamine is used with bamboo, it is not safe to heat. That includes hot food and drinks over 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) or putting the cups in the microwave. Melamine on its own is said to be safe, but as a precaution, we would advise you to not use your bamboo cups in the microwave or for hot beverages unless it has a steel insert inside.
Best Bamboo Cups
Best Everyday Bamboo Cups
For daily use, my top pick is these glass mason jars with bamboo lids. While these aren’t 100% bamboo, they meet all my needs of being eco-friendly, easy to clean, and super versatile for home or travel. The bamboo lid makes them portable and the stainless steel straw makes me feel good about keeping unnecessary plastic off our beaches.
Best Bamboo Cup for Hot Drinks
As I noted above, some forms of bamboo cups are not recommended for hot drinks. That’s why I love these bamboo mugs from SuperBee. These nine-ounce (280mL) cups have an earthy bamboo outside and sleek stainless steel inside making them perfectly safe for hot drinks or soup. The standard mug shape makes them ideal for your morning coffee at home and the travel lid makes them super portable.
Best Disposable Bamboo Cups
For those moments when you can’t use a reusable cup, I recommend a pack of these 100% compostable bamboo cups from CVS. The 12-ounce size makes them ideal for a cup of coffee on the go and you can compost them right in your backyard when you’re finished with them. Save the planet from over 500 billion plastic disposable cups that are thrown away each year with this eco-friendly option.
Best Bamboo Cup for Gifts
I am in love with this Natural Bamboo Drinking Cup from Jungle Culture. It’s carved from a single piece of organic bamboo on a small-scale farm in the Thanh Hóa province in Northern Vietnam. That’s a special story you can include when you gift this to a friend, unlike a random coffee mug that was massed produced in some nameless factory. The polished finish makes it feel super high-end. Your friends will feel proud to sip their morning smoothie from this eco-friendly vessel.
Best Bamboo Cups for Kids
Whether you’re a parent or just know a kid, you’ll want this set of bamboo cups from Seek Bamboo in your kitchen. Perfect for little hands and 100 tiny sips of kool-aid, these cups are non-toxic and dishwasher safe. Pair them with a bamboo straw and you have a kid and eco-friendly solution for every meal.
Best Bamboo Cup for Travel
The bamboo fiber reusable travel mug from Eco Trade Company is the ideal choice for commuters, early-morning walkers, or chronic coffee spillers. The flip-top lid keeps your coffee hot during your drive or from splashing all over you on your walk to work. Using this bamboo and stainless steel combo for a few months will keep hundreds of disposable coffee cups out of the landfill where they take 20 years to decompose.
Bonus: Best Bamboo Cup for Tea
This bamboo travel tumbler was a clear runner-up for me when choosing my favorite bamboo travel cup. It has a super sleek design that combines bamboo, stainless steel, and silicon for an extremely durable travel solution. This tumbler comes with a stainless steel infuser – perfect for loose-leaf tea or fruit-infused ice water.
How to Make Your Own Bamboo Cup
If you want a bamboo cup that’s truly right from the earth, you can make your own! All you need is a large piece of bamboo, a hand saw, a rotary tool, and food-grade wax or sealant.
Additionally, check out this handy step-by-step guide for making your own DIY bamboo cup.
The Best Cup Is the One You Reuse for Years
No matter which cup you use, there will always be an impact on the environment. From harvesting raw materials to energy use in production, you need to be aware of how your cup is made Even how long the cup takes to decompose once it’s discarded is a factor in how eco-friendly it is.
It can be overwhelming to know which cup is the best for the environment. The best choice is a cup that’s made with a renewable material, doesn’t use heaps of chemicals to produce, and is compostable at the end of its life. Bamboo is one of the only materials that all these goals. Just remember, whatever cup you choose should be one you use for years to come.