Coffee Time

Today my resolution is to switch to a travel mug for all coffee purchases. If I forget the travel mug, then there will be no coffee. This is a big deal, since I love my coffee in the morning. Every morning before work I pick up a coffee. Every morning prior to today, I got that coffee in a non-recyclable cardboard cup, with a cardboard sleeve. Then, after I am done the coffee, every morning I toss that cup right into the garbage.

I was trying to think, how many cups have I thrown out in my lifetime? I have been working now for 12 years, 7 of those full-time, 2 on maternity leave and 3 part-time. Since I am a dutiful accountant, I thought I should actually calculate this thing out. The result is shocking:  


When I first thought about it this morning, I thought I was probably in the few hundred coffee cup range. Nope. Turns out, I have thrown away over 2,500 coffee cups. What would 2,500 discarded coffee cups look like anyway? Could it fill my kitchen? I bet if you laid 2,500 coffee cups out all over my house, it would cover every surface, and act as a new, slightly gross, coffee cup carpet.

It is just so wasteful.

So my new love is my new green travel mug:

It is green, allowing others to see that I am making a green choice with my pretty green mug. It is also made of recycled materials, and is BPA free. I purchased this particular mug because I forgot. I told myself that I would never get another disposable coffee cup again. Old habits die hard, since the next day I found myself standing in line at Second Cup, with no travel mug in hand. So I just grabbed this travel mug off the shelf. So now I have three travel mugs, and no more excuses.

While walking to my local Starbucks on my coffee break today at work, I decided I would count the number of people carrying disposable cups. Keep in mind this is a very short walk, under 5 minutes. I counted 15 people carrying disposable cups, and another 5 within the store ordered in a disposable cup while I was there. 2 people in the store had travel mugs. One person on my walk back had a travel mug. So including me, that is 20 disposable cups vs. 4 travel mugs. I know my methods are very scientific and all, but I would hazard a guess that in reality, only 10% or so of people carry travel mugs every time, every day.

Heck I didn’t carry one, and I have been worried about the environment for years. But I was lazy. Give me your paper cup. That way I don’t have to remember mine, and don’t have to clean it either.

But starting today, things will be different. I will carry my green travel mug with pride, that I am doing something, and not being so wasteful.

Coffee, anyone?


4 thoughts on “Coffee Time

  1. Great post, Sherry – I love the accountant angle, and the chart. Seeing it put in that light makes our wastage so clear!
    Several years ago I was at a writing conference in Edmonton and one of our assignments that week was to spend an afternoon someplace in the city observing something – anything – that caught our eye and write about it. I don’t know Edmonton well, so my own “green” focus lead me to a Tim Horton’s donut shop counting the number of disposable cups that were given out in an hour. It was shocking, as you noted, though the number of travel mugs in an hour might have been lower than four, so I guess things are improving :).
    I then imagined if all those cups were piled in the parking lot of the Tim’s at the end of the day, week, month, etc – what a mountain of waste!
    Thanks for this thoughtprovoking post!

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