I’m a 21st century woman.

I recycle as much as I can, dutifully putting plastic bottles in one box, glass bottles in another, paper in a third and vegetable peelings in the compost heap. I take larger items to the household dump.

I also, being a 21st century woman, like my takeaway coffee.

I like it so much at least one cafe in the city centre knows me so well they start making my favourite tipple – Americano, white – as soon as they see me walk in the door.

Then I saw a news item recently about disposable coffee cups and realised just how contradictory my behaviour is.

At home I do all I can I can to keep the landfill dump small and looking after the planet, but out and about I’m busy adding to the landfill dump with every sip I take.

Disposable coffee cups are not generally recyclable.

I started adding up all the takeaway coffees I’ve had over the years and all the paper cups I’ve subsequently put in litter bins en route to landfill.

It’s a large number and could not be called a small molehill of rubbish.

I personally am responsible for enough landfill to fill a sand dune.

If I go on like this you will be able to put Clifford’s Tower on top of my takeaway coffee cups.

Being a 21st century woman, I rarely have time to sit in a cafe and have a leisurely coffee in a china cup.

So, feeling guilty, I bought a reusable coffee cup from Costa.

But I didn’t fancy walking into Starbucks or Café Nero and asking the staff to serve me in a Costa cup.

As for independent cafes, taking a consumer giant’s cup into them would be even more embarrassing.

Ten marks to Costa for coming up with a planet-saving solution that encourages customers to come back to their shops.

Meanwhile, their big cup sits on my desk at work where it’s very useful as a cold water holder in these hot days.

That left me still taking takeaway cups and adding to my landfill hill. I told myself I would buy a reusable cup that isn’t branded if one exists.

It does.

I found it in Barnitts when I was looking for something else. There were two sizes, 8oz for the cafes that serve connoisseurs’ coffee and 14oz for the thirst quenching cafes.

I bought both, took them a little hesitantly to my favourite café and asked if my coffee could be put in one of them.

The staff looked at the two sizes, looked at their disposable cups and took the 14oz one.

They also said it was an excellent idea, so no doubt they would welcome other reusable cups.

Not only would that stop the growth of my landfill hill, it would keeping other people’s landfill molehills from becoming full-sized hills.

So now I have my own coffee cup with me when I’m out and about.

Winchester University tried to discourage customers using disposable coffee mugs in their coffee shops by offering a discount for everyone using a reusable cup.

That didn’t work as well as they thought it would, despite most of their customers being students, a notoriously strapped for cash section of society whom you would have thought would be keen to show how environmentally aware they are.

Then the café offered the reverse. They put the discounted price as the standard price – and added 25p for everyone asking for a disposable coffee cup.

The number of people using reusable cups soared.

The price of the coffee remained the same, but now everyone using a disposable cup was aware when they got it, that it came at a price.

Maybe other coffee shops should do the same.

Make the customer pay separately for the coffee and the disposable coffee cup so that every time they add to the world’s landfill, they have to pay for the privilege.

If enough do so, it would become as common to see people carrying a reusable coffee cup as it is to see someone with a mobile phone.

Coffee cups could become fashion accessories, personalised with patterns or pictures like mobile phone cases.

A 21st century woman should have her own coffee cup.