Pin Pricks

Happy Earth Month!  I’ve been thinking about easy things we can do to help our planet.  They may seem small but if we all do them, the effect will be incredible.  Thus I have written this for your consideration:

If you had a bucket of water and a pin prick formed in the side, would that empty the bucket? It might eventually, but it would take a very long time. If more pin pricks happened, they’d still be so few that they wouldn’t really matter. But imagine you start to notice even more pin pricks in your bucket and more and more drops of water dripping out. Now, imagine a million, two million, 17 million pin pricks. Does your bucket have a problem now? I think yes.

I am suggesting that our individual choices are like those pin pricks in the bucket.  Individually they sort of don’t really matter, but enough of them combined can start to cause a problem. I see Earth as our bucket and we’re pin pricking it. So, on one hand our individual actions mean nothing and on the other hand they mean absolutely everything.  Combined, they weaken our bucket.

Can we do anything about it?  Yes.

Here are two takes on one small action that, when multiplied by the millions of us doing it, can make a difference. If we choose one, we keep pricking holes in our bucket.  If we choose the other, we don’t. While this may be just one choice of many we make each day, I think it’s an important one to illustrate my point.

Sitting in the coffee shop?

How many times have you gone to coffee shop and received your coffee, or other beverage, in a disposable cup? How many of those times did you take that cup to a table, sit and drink it? Then you got up, threw the cup away, and left?

According to a CBC Market Place investigation in October 2015, they revealed that “Canadians used an estimated 1.5 billion disposable coffee cups in 2010.” This represented more than half a million trees in one year alone. Today, five years later, that would be 2.5 million more trees gone.  The report further revealed that contrary to what some disposable cupcompanies say, they are not actually recycling those cups that are tossed in their waste receptacles. And even if they did, these cups are not easily recycled because of their inner plastic lining. Most recycle facilities don’t even take them!

This is just Canada. What about England, the United States or all of the other countries where you can get them?  The number of disposable cups is in the billions! We’re talking a LOT of pin pricks and a lot of lost forests!  One disposable cup appears insignificant, but it is linked to many urgent and critical issues: waste and pollution, habitat destruction and species losses, and climate change (from its plastic liner and deforestation from its paper).

CBC also mentioned in its report something I experience over and over again: the server automatically reaches for a take out container. In the national chains, I don’t recall ever being asked if I want my drink in a “for here” mug. I have to stop them – catch them actually – before they write my order ON the take out container, as is their routine.

So here’s my suggestion, and it’s what I try to do: when you place your order and you are planning to sit in the café to drink it, tell them you want a “for here” mug first. Then tell them what you want in it. If you are taking it out, bring a reusable travel mug with you and get them to use that.

Let’s end this unnecessary waste of trees and other resources. It may be a new habit for you and I’ve had my misses developing it myself. But trees…. forests are so worth it. Preventing pollution and saving species are worth it. Reversing climate change is worth it.

In my case, I gradually developed the habit to “catch” myself first: Stop. Think. And then place the order:

“Hi, in a for here mug can I have a tall café mocha, please?”   “Thanks.”   …..Mmm…….

Wouldn’t it be great if they just asked us for our travel mug or if we want a for here mug?  In the meanwhile, let’s plug those pin prick holes ourselves!

PS…I didn’t even mention about the plastic lid!  Doh!

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