If you’ve ever attended a music festival, gig, or a large-ish event of any kind, you’re likely familiar with scenes of punters guzzling from plastic cups en masse. Worse, you’ve probably also seen those same plastic cups strewn about the floor or piled high atop overflowing bins – destined for the landfill.
Melbourne friends Sam Stone and Christie Kamphuis met at a gig in Auckland a little over a decade ago, and have spent many years observing this gross misuse of drinking receptacles. After a little while, they thought, ‘There just has to be a better way of doing this’, so they put their heads and skillsets (they both have a background in project management) together, and BetterCup – a Bank Australia customer – was born.
“We loved going out but had a real awareness around how much single-use plastic cup waste there was at any given event,” says Christie. “We began researching and we essentially decided that we wanted to provide not only individual reusable products, but also the services to help make sure those products are adopted at scale at events and venues.”
The company launched initially in 2016, offering reusable cup packages and services to large and small-scale events and venues across Australia. But it’s the last 18 months that have really seen the brand go gangbusters. “There’s been a lot more awareness around eliminating single-use plastic waste,” says Christie. “We’re seeing so much uptake – clients from Queensland to Tassie, Darwin and Perth,– everywhere! It’s been an awesome experience and we’re really excited to be doing it together.”
Their range of cups come in four sizes – ‘tumbler’ and ‘taster’ for beers and other non-alcoholic drinks, ‘stemless’ for wins and ‘flute’ for champagne – and can be adorned with custom logos, designs, and colours. Current clients (pandemic pending!) include Bigsound, Dark Mofo, Falls Festival, Jack Daniels, Party in the Paddock, City of Melbourne, Monash University and many more . “We get to go to the awesome events while doing something that's helping the environment and helping people be more sustainable,” says Sam. “I think we're really lucky to have that!”
Bettercup clients are able to either buy the cups outright or rent them, with the rental option resulting in even more of a kickback for the environment – you could find yourself drinking from a cup that’s been to more festivals than you have. “It can be such a daunting prospect for events and venues to make the switch from single-use to reuse,” says Christie. “So we’re really big on making sure that the customer has all the information they need – I think that’s key to making sure they’re happy, and to creating long-term customers.”
Speaking of the long-term, when it comes to encouraging more people to live and operate more sustainably – whether that’s as a business or as an individual – Christie and Sam think it’s important to keep the big picture in mind, and to not approach anything from a negative space. “You really want to promote that long-lasting behaviour,” says Christie. “I don’t believe in making people feel bad for things they might not be doing – it’s really important to be as encouraging and supportive as you can.”
As well as success in the business world, Sam and Christie have also found abundance on the awards circuit, and were dubbed ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the Young Entrepreneur Awards in Melbourne last year for their work with Bettercup.
And for anyone who might have an idea for a sustainable or socially-minded business of their own, Christie’s advice is simple: “Start talking to people. Individuals, organisations, vendors, communities – everyone. I know people can be worried, but if you’re really passionate about what you do, just start building those connections, because those connections will help you build on your idea.”