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.


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Almond, Oat, Coconut, Hemp, Cashew, Flax, Rice, Da Almond, Oat, Coconut, Hemp, Cashew, Flax, Rice, Dairy... the list goes on! What kind of milk is best?? 🥛⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We've done our research so that you don't have to! Responsible Cafes can check out our newest "Mylk" Guide in the portal, but here's the crash course:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We scored milks based on water and land usage, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts. The WINNER of the competition is..... drumroll please... OAT MYLK! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Oat is the new kid on the block and has the lowest overall impact on our planet, plus it froths like a dream ✨ What's not to love??⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Do you make your own almond or oat milk at your cafe? Let us know and make sure to put it on your RC profile! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ . ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #plasticfree #reusable #vegan #environment #australia #covid19 #noexcuseforsingleuse #responsiblecafes #waronwaste #contactlesspour #coffee #contactlesscoffee #eco #byoCup #noexcuseforsingleuse
In recent years, many of us keen beans have become In recent years, many of us keen beans have become more mindful about the foods we eat and the impact that they have on the planet 🌏 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Using free-range animal products at your cafe can be a good way to cater to your customers who aren't plant-based, but still want to make more sustainable food choices. (PLUS, it's another great way to earn some bean 🌟's on our portal!)⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We always encourage cafes to do their research before choosing free-range suppliers, and to buy local as often as possible to support your neighbours and reduce emissions 👍 .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ . ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #plasticfree #reusable #freerange #environment #australia #covid19 #noexcuseforsingleuse #responsiblecafes #waronwaste #contactlesspour #coffee #contactlesscoffee #buylocal #byoCup #noexcuseforsingleuse
After reading our compost content this week, have After reading our compost content this week, have you decided to start composting so that your cafe, customers and staff can feel ah-mazing about your eco friendly actions?? Good on you!! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Here are 5 steps to get your composting journey started! We recommend doing your research as to what composting system will work best for your cafe as rules and regulations will differ by industry, council and state. Plus, what works for your mate's cafe down the road may not be right for you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Once you've got your composting system up and running, be sure to update your profile on our portal so that customers can see and we can brag about you! 🌟⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ . ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #plasticfree #reusable #zerowaste #environment #australia #compost #noexcuseforsingleuse #responsiblecafes #waronwaste #contactlesspour #coffee #contactlesscoffee #eco #byoCup #noexcuseforsingleuse
Not all biodegradable cups are created equal ❌ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ "Compostable" cups and containers may sound eco-friendly, but industrial-grade compostable containers do not decompose in traditional backyard composts. They have to be sent to industrial composting sites where high temperatures and specific conditions are used to break the materials down. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Some municipalities in Aus offer kerbside compost collection to take your organics to one of the country's 150 facilities, HOWEVER whether compostable plastics and papers are accepted will depend on your municipalities rules. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When "compostable" cups end up in nature, they don't break down like food scraps would and ultimately contribute to our plastic crisis.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If you're a keen bean, take 5 minutes to research the composting regulations in your municipality to see what compostables go in the green lid bin, and what goes in the red one. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ . ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #plasticfree #reusable #keepitclean #environment #australia #compost #noexcuseforsingleuse #responsiblecafes #waronwaste #contactlesspour #coffee #contactlesscoffee #eco #byoCup #noexcuseforsingleuse
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