You wouldn’t know it from this blog, but I’ve been living in Maine for almost three years now and have done a surprisingly poor job at publicizing my exploits across the state. I wait to post something, then forget, then think it’s too late to do anything about it and a year goes by. Oy!
So here’s something: almost every morning, I drive through the odd little village of Wiscasset and stop at my favorite, favorite place to get coffee: Treats. It is truly heaven on earth. Croissants, coffee, and a killer view to boot!! How can you lose, really? Go if you haven’t been, return if it’s been a while. 😊 Up until very recently, I carted my trusty Klean Kanteen around with me for coffee pit stops but that’s taken a backseat while I reacquaint myself with my freaking Mason Jar set up. By “freaking” I mean “Freaker” and by “Freaker” I mean “modified awesome sock.” (Or #awesomesock for all you #hashtaggers out there). Because I have a tendency to mutter “Good Grief” one too many times, it seems only fitting that my coffee stay snuggled in Charlie Brown attire. Why am I telling you this? As I get back into my favorite topic, railing against single-use plastics (looking at you, #6 plastic coffee cup lid!), I also want to talk about funky alternatives! A jar and a sock are a pretty weird combination (let’s just admit it) but a) they work and b) all the people in whatever coffee shop you visit will remark upon how fun your #awesomesock is.
While cleaning out the grounds from a recent French Press, I being my usual spastic self, somehow managed to chip and crack the glass beaker of the press. I was not happy. It wasn’t my French Press to break and now I had a fully functional lid and handle to go with a destroyed beaker. I pulled out my wallet and went to Bodum’s website, fully prepared to buy a whole new setup.
Then I got the best surprise ever. It turns out, Bodum has a whole section on their site devoted to replacement parts. Everything is on there, down to the last screw and mesh filter. After a quick search to find the right size, I was able to find a replacement glass beaker and purchased it on the spot. It arrived yesterday and I enjoyed a delicious French Press along with some homemade banana bread. In the future, I will be much more careful when composting those coffee grounds…
So that’s the good news. The semi-frustrating bit is that Bodum is definitely making a killing on this replacement parts thing. The beaker we ordered was $20 with $7.95 for shipping and handling. A brand-new all-parts-included Shin Bistro Coffee Maker (pictured above) is only $30, which makes it tempting to buy a whole setup. Someday I’d love to see companies charge less for replacement options, but if spending that $27 means not wasting perfectly good pieces (i.e. the lid and handle of our existing press) and not buying new materials, then I’ll fork over the extra dough.
Side note: they also sell a plastic replacement beaker, for $22. Which is awesome for 2 reasons: a) it creates a small demand for glass and b) coffee would taste terrible and brew horribly in a plastic carafe. Glass carafes are a win:win for Bodum and make for very satisfied customers (read: a household who craves French Press on Sunday mornings).
To top it all off, their tagline is “Make Taste, Not Waste.”
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 wherepeople 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.