Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Durability, The Environment and Convience

Is there another way other than sacrificing our environment for convenience, one little drink at a time?  
I took the picture from Fast Company, go read the article.

Taking care of our environment is critically important.  No question.  I have to say that because I actually had someone tell me they didn't care about throwing out cups, like it was a badge of honor not to care. A story for another day.  From a Christian world view, taking care of the planet is super important.  But I get ahead of myself...

Starbucks sells between 3 to 4 Billions cups of coffee per year.  And it's not just Starbucks, as much as I like to pick on them.  There's Tim Horton's, DD, the local coffee shop, etc.  That's a lot of cups being thrown in the trash and this has been acknowledged as an environmental issue by the company.  So I decided to do an experiment: how many times can I reuse a disposable coffee cup?  Different cups are made differently, for example, Wegmans uses a cup that's thicker than others and some local coffee cafe's use one that's thinner than Starbucks.  I was able to use the cup 8 times, filling it with hot liquid and washing after each use, until two things happened.  First, my wife was mortified that I would reuse a paper cup, "It's so unsanitary!"  Second, I threw it away since I was in a place where I couldn't carry it around, figured leaving a cup that had milk in it sitting in my car wouldn't be good!  I could have kept going and probably could have gotten 10-15 uses out of it.  Pretty durable!  So here's the problem: we have a cup that is durable, unsanitary after 1 or 2 uses, and convenient for me and the store.  Convenient for me because I don't have to carry it around and convenient for the store because they don't have to clean up.  But someone has to clean up the mess, right?  Just because someone throws it in a hole in the ground out of sight doesn't mean it's not a problem.  Move convenience, right?  It just becomes someone else's problem later on.  Kind of a bad pay it forward.  So we gotta think about this.

Go ahead and throw it out.  Feel bad about what you did.

Don't buy the coffee.  'How will I EVER survive without my Starbucks????'  Yeah...  Maybe buying a cup from Starbucks, Tim Horton's, Dunkin, etc. every day isn't good for you or the environment.  Buy less.  Cut it back to once per week.  You might even have to make some at home.  Wow.  You'll live.

Innovation: someone is going to figure this out and maybe even make a lot of money.  Starbucks is looking for ideas, maybe they'll buy yours.

Make Art: okay, this sounds goofy, but why not?  Think outside the box.  No, really, maybe art isn't your thing, but try doing something with it.  Take the cup home, wash it (don't use it again or my wife will get you), and stare at it.  Maybe an idea will come.  Do something goofy with it.  Com'on, just try it.

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