Like millions of other human beings I too am a caffeine addict. But I try to restrict my intake just in the form of morning coffee. Well, that's actually how it started until I got hooked on to it. Now, I step inside my favourite coffee shop, wherever I can find it, about 3-4 times a day atleast if not more.
Recently, one morning I stopped for a coffee along with a colleague of mine when she actually went ahead and bought a travel mug. I asked her why and she said because she always uses one and prefers to get her coffee in her mug. Again, out of curiosity, I asked her if it tastes better in a mug. The answer was not quite what I had expected. I was waiting for her to say "yes" so that I get an excuse to buy one myself. They look cool, don't they? Sorry for the digression - but her answer was, "No". That's when I couldn't resist and asked her one more question, "Why would you spend $10 to get a mug when you can get it in a disposable cup?" Just as I was asking the question the obvious answer came to me. And that's exactly what she said. She didn't want to waste paper.
Alert and Thinking
Putting it all into context, I ran a few numbers quickly. My favorite coffee shop chain may be selling between 1.5 to 2.0 billion paper cups annually. That number in itself was mind boggling and big enough for me to become a convert. I am glad that the coffee company realized the impact it has on the environment. So they introduced 10% post-consumer recycled fiber in their cups and sleeves. The difference it made is substantial, which is highlighted in the figure on the right. Imagine a world where we don't have paper cups at all in just this coffee chain alone. It would:
- Save atleast 780,00 trees from being felled,
- Provide 6400 homes a total of 580 billion BTUs of energy,
- Avoid 470 million gallons of wastewater, and
- Prevent 30 million pounds of solid waste.
Did I just waste $10
So you just bought the idea because you want to have a little impact on the environment because of your coffee drinking habit. Well done, you say to yourself and head to get the $10 travel mug only to have a last minute revelation that you are actually getting robbed. That's what I thought too only until I did a little math.
Bringing in my own travel mug saves me about $0.10 cents everytime I buy a coffee. With my consuming pattern of 3-4 coffees a day, it'd be just a month of so before I break even and almost get a tavel mug for free. It's not a bad proposition, if you ask me. And let's not forget that I also contributed 100 less paper cups to the trash cans.