About Us

Our Story

Responsible Cafes was founded in 2013, as an initiative of the award-winning not-for-profit Responsible Runners. Collecting litter on our beaches each week, our group of volunteers wanted to tackle the issue of ocean pollution from its source and help reduce plastic waste from our oceans and neighbourhoods. One of the bright sparks in the group thought it would be a great idea to offer people a discount if they used their own cup… then another thought of placing them on a map… and Responsible Cafes was born! 

The program grew organically at first through word of mouth, until the ABC War On Waste was broadcasted in 2017 and featured the initiative. Overnight the website went bonkers and we received 1000’s of emails and messages of support from CEO’s to grandparents and schools kids wanting to know more about how they can minimise their impact.

We are now one of Australia’s most innovative, popular, & fastest-growing programs actively engaging cafes, councils and the community to improve sustainability. In 2018 we were recognised for our achievements and nominated for a NSW Green Globe 

We have now grown to 5000 cafes and continue to look at ways we can continue to keep the conversation active and drive more impact in the hospitality industry.  

The Problem

Due to the nasty plastic lining hiding in takeaway cups, it is very challenging for waste management streams to recycle cups. Unlike a Tetra-Pac for example, in order to hold a hot drink for a period of time, the plastic is too thick to be sent to paper recycling streams. The current streams of kerbside and public waste management cannot effectively separate the two materials so the cups get sent to landfill. Customers dispose of their ‘paper cup’ in their paper recycling with best intentions but this in fact contaminates the collection which can result in the whole bin getting sent to landfill.

How we work

Behind the scenes we have a mixture of volunteers and professionals across the country working on the program to help increase the reach, educate the community and grow the network.

We strongly believe in the power of collaboration and engage with as many strategic partners to spread the message and grow impact. We have a committee that reguarly meets and ambassadors that we engage with to help drive the message through their networks. 

Waste education is at the heart of everything we do and we are constantly striving to connect with children, adults and businesses on how to reduce their waste. Feel free to get in touch if you have an idea, concept that would you like us to help spread! 

MEET OUR TEAM

Marion Vigot

Marion Vigot

Head Barista // General Manager and Impact Entrepreneur

Passionate about composting and coloured bins/beans, Marion is the new captain of the Responsible Cafes ship in a post-covid world! She works hand in hand with councils, community groups and waste warriors to positively influence behaviour change and the future of packaging!

Amy Humphreys

Amy Humphreys

Posts coffee pictures on IG // Social Media and Digital Marketing

Content creator and social media maestro, keeping our Cafes and fellow waste warriors connected and updated across all of the Responsible Cafe socials. Passionate about inspiring positive change, sustainability, and performing, Amy can usually be found filming and editing videos with her fur baby, Banks!

Manon Olaya

Manon Olaya

Takes your order // VIC Coordinator and Partnerships

Partnership kickstarter and alliance builder. Eyes always peeled for innovative ideas and opportunities to collaborate and fight the war on waste. Part-time mountain explorer, Potterhead (and proud-to-be), and adoptive mother of 1000 compost worms.

Ashlyn Brown

Ashlyn Brown

On the grind // Marketing Coordinator

Stepping into the not-for-profit scene taking on all things marketing. Advocating for the war on waste through engagement and collaboration, copywriting and coffee puns. A surviving university student, chronic coffee drinker and delighted to be a part of a female-led initiative!

Sharka Hornakova

Sharka Hornakova

Collects the coffee beans // WA Coordinator and Partnerships

Sharka aka the Shark is a Waste Warrior during the day and yoga ninja at night. Shark believes action trumps ideas and we all have a responsibility to reduce our environmental impact. On a mission to make a change in the WA community through partnerships and to help venues implement sustainable actions!

MEET SOME OF THE ORIGINAL ENViroISTAS

We are forever grateful to the help of the people who have given their time and energy to Responsible Cafes. Here are just a few that have shared their good vibes and coffee loving with us over the years! 

Jo Horsley

Jo Horsley

Calls the shots // General Manager and Partnerships

Rachel Draper

Rachel Draper

Takes your coffee order // Operations Manager

Cath Leach

Cath Leach

Creates the heart shape on your coffee // Designer and Creative Strategist

Laura Castellani

Laura Castellani

Froths at digital // Social Media Manger

Good For the Hood

Good For the Hood

Waste education dudettes

Jane Stewart

Jane Stewart

Education Queen

OUR 2020-21 AMBASSADORS

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson

Former journalist and TV presenter, author and activist.

Sarah was editor of Cosmopolitan Australia, host of Masterchef Australia and founder of the largest wellness website in Australia, IQuitSugar.com. In May 2018, Sarah closed the business and gave all money to charity. She now builds and enables charity projects that “engage humans with each other” and campaigns on mental health and climate issues. Sarah ranks as one of the top 200 most influential authors in the world and has a combined digital audience of 2.5 million.

Andy Marks

Andy Marks

Andy Marks is an agent for postive change.

He leads and advises purpose driven organisations on sustainability and climate change, has an arts practice deconstructing and reconstructing our relationship to consumer culture and is the founder of UK social enterprise SleepingBags – transforming discarded bed linen in to products for the world’s leading hotels. He established the impact production model for the ABC with War on Waste and is proud to be a Responsible Cafes ambassador. 

His is a short black with half a sugar when you’re ready.

Laura Wells

Laura Wells

Laura Wells is an Environmentalist, presenter and one of Australia's top curvy models

With degrees in both Biology and Law, qualifications in Environmental management systems and studying a Diploma of Paramedical Science; Laura’s passion for the environment, love for the ocean and interest in facilitating climate change action, has led her to become a positive role model, advocate and ambassador for change. Laura believes in the importance of educating people not only on the issues, but focusing on solutions, to empower individuals to create change.

Harriet Spark

Harriet Spark

Activist, videographer and designer with a passion for conservation

Harriet is an experienced diver and ocean photographer and videographer. Together she has brought to life incredible communication and marketing campaigns to drive awareness of ocean conservation. Most recently she started Operations Straw – a program that brings volunteer divers together to gather 1000’s of disgaurded straws on the sea floor. She is one of our favourite Keen Beans! 

FOUNDING TEAM

Justin Bonsey

Justin Bonsey

Co-Founder Responsible Cafes, Responsible Runners

Justin and Dean McLelland started Responsible Cafes in 2013 after picking up thousands of throwaway coffee cups, lids and other cafe disposables littered on their local beach. Their efforts to keep single use plastic out of the ocean were possible thanks to the hard work of the dedicated volunteers of Responsible Runners, an initiative they kicked off in 2012 with Transition Bondi that combined running with weekly beach cleanups. The initiative started as an emergency response to protect the marine environment and collect data on high-priority littered items to guide local and state policy measures to address them.
 
It was an idea whose time had come. After Responsible Cafes featured on the ABC hit series War on Waste in 2017, welcoming over 4,000 new cafes to the initiative, Justin felt the time was right to move on and now works closely with Sydney councils and the NSW Government on regional initiatives and policy and legislative reform.

Responsible Cafes would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather and work.

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It’s time to turn the tide, one choice at a time 🥳

On this very special day where two more States are taking actions on SUP with one more announcing more soon-to-be banned items - From wherever you are - join us and challenge yourself this @plasticfreejuly after two tumultuous and challenging years. 

Be the change you want to see in the world 🙌💚

Try your best, start with one easy switch, don’t be hard on yourself, start slow, challenge yourself, have a conversation, tell your kids and tell your friends about your efforts, encourage others to join you and be proud of the impact YOU are making 😃🌏

#plasticfreejuly2022 #plasticfreejuly #waronwasteau #waronwaste #waronplastic #responsiblecafes #singleuseplasticban

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We work with councils and organisations to assist with waste education and behaviour change in their community. Get in touch to see how you can benefit from being aligned with our goals and vision.