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Coffee Culture Waste
Do people not understand waste, or just not care?
Today, I’m annoyed. Very annoyed.
I love coffee shops. The number of hours I spend sitting in coffee shops may be uncomfortable for many. I do much of my writing from the tables of coffee shops and visit quite a few each week. I’m in one now.
The cause of my annoyance is the level of waste in the coffee shop I am currently inhabiting and from where I’m writing this article.
It is fair to say, that the coffee shops themselves probably could improve on their own waste, but that isn’t the focus of what I see in front of me.
The coffee shop is one of the major chains, which offer both sit-in and takeaway options. It’s the two customers that have just entered, who are the focus of my ire.
At the counter, I saw them order their favourite coffee brew. It may be a plain Americano, along with some complicated recipe that takes the barista a moment to comprehend.
“It that sit in, or takeaway?”
This question rolls off the tongue of baristas the world over and sometimes they don’t really listen to the customer and have to ask again.
“Takeaways please”, says the tall man in his late twenties.
The barista goes about her work, preparing the Americano, with milk apparently, along with the incomprehensible recipe for coffee for his partner. Both drinks are presented in takeaway cardboard cups, plastic lids, and one each of those curious heat wrappers added. They then order a couple of muffins. “With plates and knives please”, he asks politely.
Tapping his phone, no doubt collecting electronic stamps on the coffee shop’s loyalty card, they both turn away from the counter, takeaway cups and plates in hand.
And this is what annoys me.
The couple proceeds to sit down at a table or two away from where I’m seated - complete with their takeaway cups and plates filled with muffins.
For the next 15 minutes or so, they chat amiably, consuming their simple and complex recipe coffees, and mass-produced muffins.
They leave, with their table filled with empty plates, knives, a few crumbs . . . and two empty takeaway cups. A different barista clears the table a few minutes later, taking the plates and knives to be washed. The two takeaway cups, end up in the general waste bin.
Why? Why did this couple, who clearly wanted to sit in and eat their snack, ask for takeaway cups, when standard china-style cups, mugs, and spoons were plentiful?
What they have done, is waste two cardboard cups, two corrugated heat shields, two plastic lids, along with two wooden stirrers, all of which end up in the waste bin.
The coffee shop may recycle this waste, but that is not the point, None of it should be wasted in the first place.
Parts of the media will have you think that all those in their teens and twenties are rabid climate change and anti-waste campaigners, abhorring waste and the potential destruction of our planet.
Why then, does this generation, who are so vocal in their desire to change the world, do something as dumb as request single-use cardboard cups and accessories, then proceed to use them inside the coffee shop?
The world of waste, especially in the West, is appalling. What culture leads people to not consider their actions on something as simple as using the right cup, in the right place?
You may think this is an isolated case. It isn’t.
Just sit in an average chain coffee shop and you can almost guarantee seeing people do exactly what the couple here did.
And, it will annoy you.