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 a positive change agent.

Andy  is an adviser to the NSW Government on 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 the War on Waste and is also proud to be an adviser to Responsible Cafes. Andy has a sideline in BYO cups made from old jars and rubber brands for grip and heat protection – he calls them Keep Jars. 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.


Download helpful guides, posters and fun stuff.


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Let’s talk BYO mugs...⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Did you know there are actually no government-imposed bans on reusables at this time? In fact, no benefits have been found in venues switching to single-use containers.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Although single-use cups might be the most feasible option for many cafes at this time, it is possible to have touchless transactions with BYO mugs... ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This photo was shared with us just last week by a RC community member! She was able to place her *properly disinfected* mug from home on the counter, which the barista kindly poured her coffee into without any contact 👏⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We encourage cafes to read our article “Adapting to Covid-19 tips” for more information on this matter. Just click the Linktree in our bio!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #BYOMug #reusables #byoCup #noexcuseforsingleuse #plasticpollution #reduce #marinelife #choosetoreuse #responsiblecafes #ImNoMug #waronwasteAU #coffeelovers #environment #reuse #byoMug #refuse #plasticfree #oceanconservation #recycle
Our kit of digital assets is up on the website for Our kit of digital assets is up on the website for #buythemacoffee (or a cake!) ☕️🍩 ready to download (link in bio). Thanks to all the cafes that have registered so far! 🤟Lots of supporters have suggested this should be opened up to people who are struggling financially right now... We will leave it up to our amazing cafes to make that call and pass the good coffee vibes to someone in need. Love you guys! ❤️ #buythemacoffee #responsiblecafes #covid @buythemacoffee Thank you @catfishcreative for the amazing posters. We are so lucky to have your kind voluntary support x
CALLING ALL CAFES☕️ Sign up to our #buythemaco CALLING ALL CAFES☕️ Sign up to our #buythemacoffee campaign where you ask your lovely customers to buy an extra coffee - one for them and one for a key worker! All you have to do is keep a tally and give that coffee away to a front line worker. All you doctors, nurses, teachers, bus drivers, police etc who are keeping the show on the road. We salute you! 👊 We have teamed up with the good folk @buythemacoffee 💜 who have already raised over $80,000 to supply our healthcare workers free coffee during the night shifts. Let's work together to do the daytime! More info in the bio with details on how to get involved. Tag your local cafe if you would like to see them sign up to this so you can #buythemacoffee⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #responsiblecafes #corona #covid #covidkindness #mealforamedic
Many Responsible Cafes have had to make the diffic Many Responsible Cafes have had to make the difficult decision to no longer accept reusables for the time being. We know this is a hard pill to swallow for your cafe and loyal customers as it might feel like you're taking a step backwards in the war on waste....⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But we’re here to reassure you there are other fantastic ways to reduce your waste footprint beyond reusables. For example, where do your used coffee grounds end up? Instead of chucking them in the bin, consider implementing a compost system for grounds and food waste to reduce your landfill contributions! Or if composting isn’t feasible, look up local businesses who will pick up your grounds for free and put them to good use. 🌱⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ . ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #compost #byoCup #noexcuseforsingleuse #plasticpollution #reduce #marinelife #choosetoreuse #responsiblecafes #ImNoMug #waronwasteAU #coffeelovers #environment #reuse #byoMug #refuse #plasticfree #oceanconservation #recycle
Has your cafe or restaurant been reduced to takeaw Has your cafe or restaurant been reduced to takeaway only? You’re not in this alone, it’s a new way of doing business for many so we want to try and help by sharing what other cafes have been doing to survive these unprecedented times. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Visit the link in our bio to view our top tips to help you adapt during this health crisis. If you have any tips to add to the list, please post them below to help your fellow cafe community members.
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