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Stories and green tips related to nature, adventure, placemaking, and food systems, written by a beginning farmer/gardener and seasoned sustainability educator who loves to grow, cook, ferment, and eat local and ecologically happy food.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Coffee and a green tip

Coffee and I have a close relationship, I'd say. This morning, I was a little rushed to get out the door because I was riding my bike and thus had to leave a little earlier than usual, and I didn't have time to make coffee. I figured it would be no big deal--I've gone without coffee in the morning before with no issues. But today, my body knew that I hadn't had my normal routine interaction with coffee and it was mad. So, in retaliation, I got a headache. I guess if I want to go without coffee, I'll have to slowly reduce my dependence on my coffee routine and begin trading in some decaf so my brain doesn't freak out when there's no caffeine.

I was also really tired today after going to bed at 11 PM, which for me is late but for my fellow classmates is early; many of them go to bed routinely at 12, some 2:00 in the morning... I have no idea how they do it. My dad and I had studied poetry and Hamlet after St. Patrick's Day dinner until 10 PM and then my sister and I had to goof off for an hour before my mom finally made us go to bed. So I really should have had my coffee.

I decided to go to Starbucks after school, figuring that because I had endured a ridiculous Stat test with a headache and sleepy brain I deserved a treat. This nice weather we've been having is perfect bike-to-school weather and I rode yesterday and today, so after school I rode my bike to Starbucks and did some homework. But wait, I didn't have my coffee mug because I hadn't brought any coffee with me to school this morning. I had a few minutes of moral struggle about whether or not it was okay that I get a drink in a disposable cup--plastic, since it's hot out and I wanted iced coffee. And then I realized that Starbucks has "for-here" or "in-house" mugs and glasses for people who aren't taking their coffee to go. Aha! Perfect! So now I give you a green tip:

Green Tip: Forgot your travel mug and staying awhile? Ask for a glass or ceramic mug.
"Real" coffee shops, ones that aren't transnational with a mythical mermaid logo, often serve your coffee in mugs or glasses on default and you have to ask for a travel cup. But places like Peet's, Starbucks and other pop culture coffee shops serve you plastic or paper cups so you can take it to go, which makes sense in our fast-paced world of commuters. Most people stop at Starbucks to pick up their coffee and then they head to work or school. Of course they should use a travel mug, but they don't, so these shops supply disposable cups.



But let's say you're going to be sitting in Starbucks for a business discussion or to read a book or to chat with a friend. Chances are, you'll get a paper/plastic disposable cup, drink the entire drink while you're there, and then throw it away as you leave the store. If you know you won't be bringing the drink with you out of the store, ask for a glass/ceramic mug and then return it when you're finished. No wasted paper or plastic! (Check out this article I just found that relates to this tip!)

I was thinking about this as I rode home: wouldn't it be grand if places like Starbucks had a sign at the register that said something like "Staying for a bit? Ask for a mug or glass instead of a to-go cup." That would be awesome! This tip also applies to those of us who sometimes forget our travel mugs and then are forced to waste resources. If you're going to be there for a bit, get a mug and rest assured that you aren't contributing to a landfill or using up energy down the road when the plastic is recycled.

Happy Almost-Friday! :-)
Green Gal

---

It wasn't the Exxon Valdez captain's driving that caused the Alaskan oil spill. It was yours.
-- Greenpeace advertisement,
New York Times, 25 February 1990

7 comments:

  1. Good tip! Most people don't know that coffee shops have REAL mugs, we have a locally owned, fair trade only, coffee shop here in Ipswich and it's owned by a Sherpa who's actually been up Everest. They always ask if it's "for here or to go" I wish all coffee shops were like ours. :)

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  2. and make sure you ask for it quick because they grab the paper so fast...it's like when you go to the grocery store and your stuff is halfway bagged before they look up and see your cloth bag! every time i see paper starbucks cups they get me aggravated...it's a good reminder for ANYTHING that is used for a short amount of time - really, something took so much energy to create and goes in a landfill in 10 minutes...yikes...good reminder to folks on FOOD at starbucks too...recy

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  3. woops....recycle that paper bag your pastry comes in or better yet, just get it with a napkin that you're going to use anyhow :)

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  4. Great tip! We don't have many independent coffee shops in our area. I was so excited when we moved and found one nearby! The first time we went in I was so excited to discover that they automatically use real plates and cups if you say it's "for here". So lovely!

    And about coffee, it's a hard addiction to break. I went mostly caffeine-free in 2002 when I first started trying to get pregnant. It took a good month until I stopped getting daily headaches from my lack of caffeine. My youngest (and last) baby is now 7 months old. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to go back to caffeine once he's weaned or if I'll stay largely caffeine-free (I do cheat with chocolate and occasional glasses of iced tea. I'm not totally insane ;)

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  5. Great post. People often forget the "Reduce" and "Reuse" part of the 3Rs. The checkout people still give you a funny look when you pull out your own pre-used bags :).

    About the coffee, my experience is that it is the regular habit which causes the addiction. If you vary the times and go coffee free some days, you should be able to enjoy your occasional cup of coffee. I recall reading something about the effect of coffee molecules on your brain which may explain this.

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  6. Great tip, and one I struggle with all the time. I agree with EcoGrrl; they are so fast on the draw with the paper cup that sometimes you don't get the chance to request a real mug!

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  7. If you start off with "Can I have a mug for here," then they don't have a chance to write anything down on the paper cup. When I bring a reusable travel mug, I hand it to them and then order my drink.

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I love reading comments and am always up for a discussion! Thank you!

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