Sample cups just might have the shortest lifespan out of any disposable product. After one sip or bite, they're tossed into the trash. But a new program debuting at Outdoor Retailer offers a sustainable alternative.

Vessel Works, a stainless steel reusable cup service, has teamed up with Nuun, Patagonia Provisions, Cusa Tea, and Lono Life to serve food and beverage samples this week during the show.  At the end of each day, Vessel Works will collect the 2-ounce, stainless-steel cups, wash and sanitize them overnight, then return them to the booths for another day of sampling.

"As leaders in circular economy solutions to disposables, we are excited to expand our offerings to the trade show industry with Nuun at Outdoor Retailer,” said Dagny Tucker, founder of Vessel. “Food and beverage trade shows can produce upwards of 9.4 million disposable sample cups per show. Beyond sustainability, our elegant solution adds beauty and sophistication for a better exhibit experience for vendors and attendees alike."

The four brands are members of the Plastic Impact Alliance, the movement of 225-plus outdoor companies who have come together to work toward a single-use and plastic-free trade show and to activate the greater community for a more sustainable industry. 

“We are extremely encouraged and motivated by the mission of the Plastic Impact Alliance,” said Kevin Rutherford, Nuun President and CEO. “We immediately joined the initiative, and asked ourselves how we could do better and eliminate our single-use sample cups at Outdoor Retailer. I applaud the remarkable team at Vessel for providing us with a game-changing solution that is a huge step in our goal of zero waste trade show booths.”

Jim Lamancusa, of Cusa Tea, added: "It has always bothered me how many cups get thrown away at trade shows. We can easily go through 2,000 to 3,000 cups in a single show. I was so excited to hear about Vessel's reusable program because they take all of the hassle out of using reusable. Having them drop off and pick up and wash every day makes it a program that we can easily and enthusiastically be a part of!"

Vessel Works is aiming to reverse today's throw-away culture. Its primary service is offering sustainable alternative to single-use sample cups, a program modeled after bike-sharing initiatives.

If you’re interested in reusable drinkware for your events, visit