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! 


Jo Horsley

Jo Horsley

Calls the shots // General Manager and Partnerships

Partnerships whizz, best friend to our councils, genius with community engagement, steering the Responsible Cafes ship across calm and choppy waters! Mother of a crazy four year old, artist, music maker and lover of the ocean.

Rachel Draper

Rachel Draper

Takes your coffee order // Operations Manager

Looking after all of our cafes, campaign management, keeping eyes peeled for new collaboration opportunities and all day-to-day queries. Rescue dog mamma and lover, founder of the Relove Movement, spreadsheet whizz and general waste warrioress.

Cath Leach

Cath Leach

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

The master behind all Responsible Cafe designs and branding, creating positive changes through friendships and collaborations with other legendary initiatives. Master behind the reuse of a glass jar.

Laura Castellani

Laura Castellani

Froths at digital // Social Media Manger

Laura is our wonderful social media who can take an idea and run with it!  She has digital transformation experience and will helping to grow our network of cafes and keen beans. She is passionate about saving waste and eating healthy. 

Good For the Hood

Good For the Hood

Waste education dudettes

We work with the great team from Good for the Hood to help engage councils and corporates with waste education messaging and partnership. They bring amazing energy and passion to the group. 


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! 

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.


Download helpful guides, posters and fun stuff.


Help support us by buying a responsible product in our shop.

Looking to find a Responsible Cafe?

Is your cafe accepting reusables?! There are so ma Is your cafe accepting reusables?! There are so many ways to bring back reuse in a safe way. Try a contactless pour or ask for a drink-in cup and pour into your own cup!  Failing all this go topless and ditch the plastic lid. Check out our website for great tips and lots of fab free posters and guides to help you spread the reuse word... thanks for your help! 🙏🏽💚☕️

#plastic #responsiblecafes #cafes #coffee #oceanprotection #singleuse #circulareconomy #sustainableliving #environment #byocup #sustainability #coffeelover #coffee
In a recent study by Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur researchers set out to evaluate the degradation of plastic lined films in single-use cups. They found that 4 out of 5 disposable paper cups were lined with HDPE grade of plastic. In the experiment scientists poured hot water (85–90 °C) and left the samples for 15 minutes. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Using fluorescence microscopy they discovered that approximately 25,000 micron-sized microplastic particles leached into one cup of water (100 ml). The analysis also found the presence of heavy metals—iron, chromium, and cadmium in particular—in the cup’s plastic lining. The report suggests that the Ingestion of microplastics, ions, and heavy metals regularly while using these single-use products can expose us to potential health risks in the future, like cancer and infertility. Read more on our blog with links to full report. Link in bio.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
#plastic #responsiblecafes #cafes #coffee #oceanprotection #singleuse #circulareconomy #sustainableliving #environment #byocup #sustainability #coffeelover #coffee #microplastic #science
No need for an icky plastic cup lid or post it not No need for an icky plastic cup lid or post it note with this inventive way of writing an order directly on the coffee machine! Thanks @classiccoffee  for the great oat latte and accepting my rainbow 🌈 vibes mug! 💙
Attention responsible consumers & companies... our Attention responsible consumers & companies... our preferred suppliers list is now LIVE! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
We're super excited that @huskeecup and @terracycle have partnered with us to offer Responsible Cafes preferred rates on their eco-friendly products! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Click the link in our bio to view rates and offerings, or get in touch with us today if your company is interested in being featured ✨
It's tricky to know which cafes are accepeting reu It's tricky to know which cafes are accepeting reusables right now, so we've made some ✨NEW posters✨⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Cafes, simply print out one of these fun posters from our site to let customers know that you're proudly accepting reusables. Or, if posters aren't your jam you can post it to your socials! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Some of your lovely customers may be too shy to ask if they can bring their own mug, so spread the word and get those reusables back in action! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This was once a jam jar. Some clever bean finished This was once a jam jar. Some clever bean finished their jam, cleaned the jar, brought it over to @thepantryonegmont and asked for a jar of coffee. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Now this jar has a new life purpose serving as a coffee mug. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Remember, your reusable cup doesn't have to cost $50. Jars are hip and cool too you know ✌🏽⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
📷credit @thepantryonegmont - thanks for sharing!
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