Reducing Waste By Not Using What’s Provided   1 comment

At my conference this week there was a table out all day with coffee carafes and hot water for tea. It was Starbucks’ coffee so they had the branded paper coffee cups and sleeves out, as well as the plastic lids for hot beverages. On the first day of the conference I was warding off my husband’s cold so I was using the echinacea tea that I brought with me. Since the brewing instructions for that tea are for a stronger infusion to get all of the medicinal qualities, having a covered cup to keep it warm longer is a good thing. On the first morning, therefore, I grabbed one of the plastic lids for that purpose. I did notice that while most people at the conference had lids on their coffee/tea cups, some people didn’t. At some point on the second day as I was preparing myself a cup of tea I caught myself automatically reaching for the plastic lid and realized that I was being wasteful, so I put it back. Since the lids were stacked right in front of me it had seemed perfectly natural to use one, even though I didn’t need it. There was no longer a need for a lid to help make a stronger infusion, and since the conference mostly involved sitting or casual walking between sessions there was not much of a spill risk. Not taking the lid effectively reduced the raw materials/energy/water required for my cup of tea, and also reduced the mass of waste created.

It made me think, though, about all the times that we are presented with something that is not always necessary, and how often we take the thing and use it out of habit or because we forget that we don’t actually need it at the time. Other examples that come to mind are things like straws and condiment packets. Many restaurants bring straws when they bring drinks to the table, even though the glasses had to have been sanitized, and the patrons are sitting at a table where they are unlikely to spill their drinks while drinking them. Sometimes I wonder if restaurants do that because patrons are uneasy about drinking from glasses, they want to reduce the labor for the dishwasher, or some other reason. Most of the time it seems that the straw is just a waste of paper and plastic. Condiment packets are the same sometimes where the person at the counter throws a handful of packets in the bag before handing to the customer. I know a lot of people like to save the unused packets, although I’ve never understood how that is more convenient than a bottle of ketchup, but for those of us who don’t use/save them those packets just go in the trash and constitute a waste of materials/water/energy.

Posted March 20, 2011 by mayakey in conscious living, resource use

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One response to “Reducing Waste By Not Using What’s Provided

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  1. Pingback: Not Using What’s Provided, Part 2 « Love Knowledge Zeal & Fortitude

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