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“Would you like that drink for here or to go?”
In the past year and a half of working at a coffee shop, I have said that phrase probably thousands of times. This isn’t a proven statistic, but I can safely say that 90% of the time, the answer is “to go please!” It makes sense. We are located in the heart of downtown, less than a mile from many banks and law firms, and we are right around the corner from city hall and the county court. We serve mostly men and women in suits stopping in for their daily cup of joe to take into the office with them. They don’t have time to sit in the shop and sip on their drink for twenty minutes. I get it. But I have noticed an alarming number of people saying, “Well, I’ll probably drink it here but you can go ahead and put it in a paper cup.” Nine times out of ten I see them toss their empty cup into the trash can. I guess they could have had it for here after all. Now, I am not at all writing this post to condemn anyone. I know that I have done the same exact thing! I am simply writing this because I think it is one small way that we could all be a little more thoughtful. Here are three reasons to reconsider whether or not you really need that coffee in a to go cup.
1) We are always on the go, and sometimes we just need a break. I think one of the main reasons that people will get their coffee in a to go cup is to maintain their flexibility. You are busy, and you have a lot on your plate. Even if you plan on sitting down to drink your coffee, you wouldn’t dare make the commitment to a real mug. What if another urgent meeting comes up? What if the anxiety of being away from the office for twenty minutes becomes too much and you have to go back immediately? Getting your coffee in a mug is a bold move. It is committing the next twenty minutes of your time to sitting in one place and enjoying the simple pleasure of a delicious beverage. I honestly think that is hard for people! Even if they want to enjoy their drink in the shop, getting their drink in a mug is essentially tying them down. If we are in such a frenzy of life that we can’t fathom not being able to get up and go at any moment, maybe that is when we especially need to sit down with a steaming mug of coffee. Let the world slow down for just a little while. The office will be there when you get back.
2) It tastes, looks, and feels better. Think about an ideal winter day. Maybe up in a cabin. Sitting by a crackling fire. Drinking some hot coffee. Now stop. Do you envision yourself sitting there with a flimsy paper cup or a nice, hefty mug? Yeah, me too. Sure, walking around downtown with a disposable coffee cup in hand might be weirdly trendy, but nothing beats a handcrafted latte in a warm ceramic mug. The latte art is clearer and fuller and doesn’t get covered up by a lid. When your drink is in a mug, you can almost see the smell of espresso or coffee wafting into the air. And as you sit at a couch or table and cling to that mug with both hands, you will, if only for a second, feel an overwhelming peace as you enjoy your beverage, sip by sip.
3) It’s doing the planet a favor. Americans throw away around 30 billion disposable coffee cups each year. 30 billion. Not only are a ton of resources used in producing these paper cups, but they are also, for the most part, not able to be recycled and therefore end up in a landfill. 30 billion disposable coffee cups going straight to a landfill. How much of a difference would it make if you, yes you, chose to get your coffee in a mug instead of a paper cup? Maybe not even every time. Just once a week. And let’s assume you get coffee once a week. That is 52 less disposable cups being thrown away each year. If just 100 people read this blog and followed through, that would be 5,2000 disposable cups saved. This might be a small change, but it is the little changes that lead to big results. Our resources are limited, and our space on this earth is finite. Let’s not fill it with any unnecessary waste. We all have a lot of work to do to reduce our impact on this planet. This is just one small way to start the change.
But wait, Scottie, you don’t understand. I have to get my coffee in a to go cup. I can’t spare twenty minutes sitting in a coffee shop. No problem. I totally get that. Which is why travel coffee mugs like this one are such a great thing. They keep your drink hotter for longer. Most are leak or spill proof. And most importantly, they are reusable! Some of the more high quality travel mugs were built to last for years on end. In addition, most decent coffee shops are more than willing to put your favorite drink in your favorite travel mug. In the shop where I work, you even get a slight discount for bringing your own cup! Helping the planet and saving money? Hello! What could be better?
Paper/disposable cups aren’t going anywhere. I have used paper cups before, and I am sure I will use paper cups in the future. They are super convenient and available almost everywhere. I’m also not telling you to boycott any shop that uses paper cups or to aggressively slap disposable coffee cups out of people’s hands while walking down the street (although that might be hilarious). All I am asking is that you would reconsider that very simple question, “Will this be for here or to go?”