Wednesday, March 11, 2009

reduce, REUSE?, recycle

A few weeks ago, I ran into a gentleman who asked if he could see my to-go coffee cup before I tossed it in the trash. "Of course," I replied.

He pulled the sleeve from the cup, put it in his pocket and then threw the rest of the cup in the trash. "A little pet peeve of mine," he said. "It's against a health ordinance for them (the local coffee place) to put these back into use, so I sneak them back into the tray for them... just a little thing I do."

I didn't think it odd at the time, and I still don't. Here was one man doing what he could do, be it ever so slight, to make the world a better place.

"No problem," I replied.

Fast forward a few weeks and I stepped into the local Latte Land (east side) here on the Country Club Plaza with my frequent drinker card (pictured above) to meet someone for a quick business meeting. I stepped up the counter, made my order and presented the sleeve to the barista, who promptly punch my sleeve... buy 10 get one free, you know.

"Would you like to put this back into your backpack or use it for your order?" she asked.

"What?" I was perplexed at the question so she repeated it. "Use it, please," came my reply.

Part of the purpose of the frequent sleeve is reuse. In fact, it says right on the sleeve, "Be green, save a tree and drink for free!" So, why did this employee even ask whether I wanted to stuff it back into my bag (the premise being that I'd have to use a new one to protect my fingers from the heat of the tea)?

Herein lies the difference between the person in the first story and the person in the second: generation. The first man was an older person, the type of guy that keeps his nuts and bolts in their individual glass jars and labeled in the garage for that rainy day when they might be needed. The second person was a very young American with a throw-away society mentality... instant gratification, assumed entitlement, when you throw something away it just disappears with no impact on the world.

Ummm, no. It doesn't work that way. The choices we make impact the world. So, stuff that reusable sleeve in your pocket or your bag and yank it out the next time you enter a coffee house. Don't worry about whether it's for that particular establishment or not, you're saving them money by not using one of theirs.


Winifred said...

IMO, the assumption you made of the young barista's character could be completely wrong. Maybe she is simply being polite and recognizing that not everyone has the same "go green" mentality, and that some customers are just in it to save the money. That doesn't mean she wouldn't make the same choices you do about the environment if she was in your shoes.

Stacey K said...

I've been knitting coffee sleeves out of recycled sweaters. It's a great way to reuse some ugly sweaters and not use paper sleeves.

Robert Zamees said...

The employee is an extension of the brand, therefore, she should exude the brand and make the assumption that reuse is the obvious choice. By asking, she gives the customer the opt-out and, hence, the possible detriment to the environment.

It's easy to say, "I'm gonna go ahead and reuse your sleeve for the good of the environment, okay?"

Few customers would be able to say no.

Or, we could just get StaceyK to knit 100 million, or so, ugly sweater sleeves for us.

Raaf said...

better yet...stop driving to buy coffee in the first place...make coffee at home...but that uses electricity (which mostly comes from coal)...and then there's the fuel needed for importation of the coffee itself (let alone the fuel used by that barista to get their ass to work)...but then again the coffee could be imported using only electric vehicles (charged using mostly coal-driven power)...and of course its batteries would be made of one of the most non-renewable resources on the planet (lithium) - which largely (50% of world supply) comes from one place, bolivia, which in turn has driven the price of lithium up (good thing mentally ill people don't rely on it for treatment *snicker*)...and bolivia of course gets their economic and trade advice from venezuela (hmmm maybe that's why they kicked our ambassador out when venezuela kicked ours out too)...and venezuela - one of the powers controlling the price and supply of oil in the first place.

the only real solution is to increase the speed at which the planet becomes uninhabitable by humans so that it can return to the idealic state where dinosaurs and algae walked hand in hand and coffee-free.

Raaf said...

sorry - i realized there is an error in what i wrote.

baristas do not drive cars, they ride fixed-gear bicycles or single-speeds.

baristas by and large create a smaller carbon footprint....well unless those piercing machines run on coal - then i'd say it's a wash.

Robert Zamees said...

If this is the Raaf-sta-far-i that I know, then I sure miss your extensively thought out logic, my friend. Beer and tequila next time I'm in town!