Coffee Waste

File this under First World Problems.  I wanted to treat my lady to coffee today.  She was nice and made breakfast and had the day off anyway so I thought I'd get her a nice coffee.  We stopped by the nearby Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and got our usual.  We're fans of coffee so we try different places, the more local the better.  CB&TL just happens to be the closest one that boasts a drive-through.

Much to my consternation, our drinks came with splash sticks.  These weren't the long splash/stir sticks you see at Starbucks, but a sawed-off version with the sole purpose of avoiding a couple dollops of coffee to escape while you drive or walk away.  They're a cute gimmick but that's all they are.  And the only reason CB&TL are doing it is because big brother Starbucks is doing it.

This is extremely wasteful, I hope they see that.  We recycle all the cups we get from coffee places, in fact it's more than any other single item in our bins.  But you have to separate it out to paper for the cup, cardboard for the sleeve and plastic for the lid.  Now there's another plastic that's likely a different number, but I don't know what number it is.  (I know, "Wah, wah! Shut up you stupid hippie!")

While I don't mind doing the recycling work, I think the company should take it upon itself to be more proactive about the plastic they use.  I'm okay with lids.  I think the old fashion lids with the perforated openings were just fine.  Plus, it's a single #6 recycling plastic.  They're easy to collect and then toss into your blue bin or take to the recycling centers.  No fuss, no muss.  Plus there's a reason for the lids; the coffee is hot. As we stupid Americans have found out, hot coffee is a litigious beverage.  We need as many barriers between our groins and our scalding morning jump-juice as possible.  We just can't be trusted otherwise, hence the lids. And that's fine.

But these stir/splash sticks are like paper receipts.  Unless you are collecting receipts as part of a business trip, I don't need one.  I have a record of it on my bank account.  Plus, it's not like it's a car or 65inch TV or computer; it's a cup of coffee.  As Mitch Hedberg says, "I give you the money, you give me the donut.  End of transaction.  We do not need to bring ink and paper into this."  Stir sticks have a life cycle of box, coffee cup, trash can in about 30 seconds.  Why even bother with that waste?  If you're going to have these sticks, put a special jar or bin out to collect the unwanted ones.  Or leave the sticks out for people to chose if they need them.  I understand you may be taking a large order to your office and you don't want to spill, but leave that choice to the consumer.  Don't just hand me plastic.

There's a place in Pflugerville called Dazzle.  They make especially good coffee for starters.  They are also very friendly, community oriented, and their overhead is almost nothing.  They work out of what may have been an old burger drive through, but it's maybe a 50sq foot free standing building and all they do is coffee.  What separates them further from the other local shops and the big chains is the lids they use.

I know they didn't make these themselves, but I did some research on the subject (and by research I mean I did some online searching for about 10 mins) and couldn't find the manufacturer of these lids.  (I'm sure it's on the lid itself, but I don't have one with me.  I'll update when I get one.)  The point is, I couldn't EASILY find it online.  Which is a shame because this is a genius level lid.  It's pop-up book technology AND it removes the need for wasteful splash sticks.

So why hasn't CB&TL adopted this instead of following Starbuck's lead with the sticks?  That's a good question.  I thought maybe it was cost, which is why I was trying to find a manufacturer to gauge price.  I can't imagine the cost of fancy lids outweighs normal lids + sticks.  Not to mention the waste cost we must endure afterwards.

So I'm making an effort.  I'm going to ask from my big chains that they not give me a stir stick.  If they insist, I'll hand it back and ask that they recycle it.  I'm going to write Starbucks and CB&TL and suggest this lid instead.  And I'm definitely going to patron Dazzle as long as I'm nearby.

Carry on.

1 comment:

alonewithcats said...

It's great that you're being proactive and taking steps to make your local cafe cut the crap. Or in this case, plastic. Sometimes I feel as if I'm the only one who hauls my recycling home with her because I feel guilty about sending one more cup/can/bag/etc. to the landfill. Nice to know I'm not alone.