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Sustainability on Wheels: How Coffee Carts Are Promoting Eco-Friendly Practices

Environmental sustainability is quickly becoming one of the foremost concerns of the 21st century, with people worldwide realizing the importance of reducing our global footprint to protect the planet for future generations. The restaurant industry is one of the least talked about contributors of non-biodegradable waste, discarding a staggering 40 billion pieces of cutlery and 390,000 tons of food each year. Combined with other high-polluting industries like fashion, fuel and energy, and agriculture, the global emission rate tops 37.12 billion metric tons yearly. Embracing alternative business practices like coffee carts opens the door to a reimagined connection between the food service industry and environmentalism.

Sustainability Reimagined

Coffee cart business owners are turning the food industry upside down by implementing simple yet impactful sustainable practices. One mobile coffee cart can reduce carbon emissions by up to 18 metric tons compared to a similar brick-and-mortar business. How does a mobile coffee cart reduce emissions so drastically? Let’s look closer.

1.   Using recycled materials

Coffee carts make it possible to use more recycled materials, reducing overall petroleum use by as much as 80%.

2.   Choosing biodegradable packaging

Biodegradable packaging breaks down quickly, dramatically reducing the time it spends in landfills. Unlike plastics, biodegradable materials are far less harmful to the planet, using fungi and bacteria to decompose the material, turning it into an innocuous substance like sugar or gas.

3.   Integrating energy-efficient appliances

Since coffee carts run on battery power, they must use energy-efficient appliances to ensure their power source lasts as long as possible. These environmentally-friendly devices use between 10% and 50% less water and energy than their standard counterparts.

Why Awareness and Education Matter

There is a saying that “you can’t change what you don’t know,” which is why raising environmental awareness through education is vitally important. Customers are more likely to make more mindful decisions when they understand how their choices impact the planet. For example, many coffee carts use biodegradable cups, napkins and plates made from recycled materials, almond milk instead of cow’s milk, and seasonal or locally sourced menus. These seemingly small choices not only reduce their carbon footprint but they set an example of the importance of sustainability.


One exciting way mobile coffee cart owners can raise environmental awareness is through coffee buckshot initiatives. Attending events where you offer coffee samples while discussing the importance of sustainable, eco-friendly practices is a great way to connect with others in a more relaxed, friendly manner.

Sustainability Challenges Coffee Cart Business Owners Face

To develop a sustainable mobile coffee cart business, you must understand the potential challenges you’ll face, so you can develop strategies to overcome them.

1.   A small budget

Unfortunately, environmentally friendly products often include a higher price tag which can pose a challenge for new coffee cart business owners. While it may be tempting to jump in head first, even small substitutions have a lasting impact. So while you may not be able to use all biodegradable, plant-based products at first, even implementing one or two items and building your stock over time is a great way to start.

2.   Lack of interest

Let’s face it; while the world is changing, not everyone understands the importance of embracing a sustainable lifestyle. That said, some customers may not be interested in learning about environmentalism and how your mobile coffee cart is embracing sustainability. While it can feel discouraging, know that for every person who isn’t interested in protecting the environment, a dozen more are extremely passionate about preserving our planet’s future. Focus on setting an example of how incredible incorporating eco-friendly products into your daily life can be, showing customers that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort and convenience for sustainability. Soon, they will see that environmentalism isn’t weird or taboo, and hopefully, they will begin making changes in their own lives.

3.   Gaining exposure

As with any food cart business, exposure is key to success. You must meet your customers where they are to make sales and understand their general likes and dislikes. For example, those in an area with a large Hispanic population could do well-selling cafe cubano, while those in southern regions may want to focus on providing sweet flavor add-ins like butter pecan or toffee. Offering delicious menu items will draw customers in, allowing you to connect with them and spread your message of sustainability and environmental awareness.


Coffee is not only delicious but can contribute to greater biodiversity and environmental preservation. Owning a coffee cart business gives you a voice to promote traditional and eco-friendly coffee farming and production, opening the door to discussing additional sustainability opportunities with customers. Spreading the message on the importance of supporting environmentally sustainable initiatives is crucial to increasing public awareness and excitement toward protecting our planet. One cup at a time, coffee carts are changing the global conversation toward sustainability and embracing our role as environmental protectors.