Readers, I need to blow off some steam, so pardon the following rant. I’m hoping some of you can empathize:
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen what trash does when it gets out of your garbage can and into a part of the world where people rarely are. I’ve seen the waste problem and it cannot be unseen. It’s like I have these glasses on, not the rose colored ones, but a kind that make it so I cannot NOT see and observe waste.
What is waste? Waste is anything that is not essential, something extra that serves no purpose. Waste is something that is used for 5 minutes and thrown away, yet is made of materials that will far outlive its usefulness.
What am I getting at, exactly? Well, it’s something we all know and most definitely have all used:
The to-go coffee cup.
Yeah, that thing. That small, seemingly innocuous little cup. Nobody thinks about it. They think, “I need coffee. I need tea. I need a venti-soy-no-whip caramel macchiato and I need it now or I will drive this car off the road.” To most people, this cup is just a means of getting them a jolt of caffeine and the thought of throwing this plastic-coated paper cup and plastic lid in the garbage isn’t a big deal. In fact, it’s usually a non-issue. People buy their coffee, they drink said coffee and then maybe it registers somewhere in their subconscious that they have to throw this cup in the garbage. That last part isn’t really a conscious thought though. It’s just what you do when you’re done using a cup…you throw it away. Chain reaction, satisfaction guaranteed, no guilty conscious.
But what if people thought about that cup in a different way? What if people were exposed to what a coffee cup really is? What if their thought process went like this:
“I need coffee. I need tea. I need a venti-soy-no-whip caramel macchiato and I need it now or I will definitely drive this car off a cliff. But wait just a second here. You mean to tell me this coffee cup is coated with plastic? Like…even if I make SURE it finds a home in the nearest garbage can it probably still won’t break down? Because it’s going to a landfill, where nothing breaks down? And what’s that? The lid that I sip my delicious life-blood out of is made of a material that wasn’t designed to break down quickly, in any sort of environment? So what you’re telling me is that this coffee cup is basically going to outlive me…and I only used it for 10 minutes. Uh…what?”
So my goal with this post is to 1) rant a little bit but mostly to 2) meditate on the idea of waste in an item as simple as a coffee cup.
Hopefully people reading this might think, “Wow, that is crazy…” and the next time you get coffee, you’ll think about your coffee cup a little differently. If you already think this way…I raise my cup to you!
Yes, there will be a few who will read this and ten minutes later they’re craving a caramel macchiato and they forget all about this notion of “waste”. They’ll continue to go about their daily lives with no real thought as to what they’re consuming. That’s not really acceptable, but it’s OK…because these are the people I will continue to fight for and try my hardest to educate. Sooner or later, they’ll have to wake up and smell the coffee.