I’m currently “researching” (searching the web, talking to people, observing etc.) ways people and stores can make simple changes to reduce waste and would like to share with you what I learn as I go along. I’m thinking of calling this series the “Coffee Shop Hop” – at least the in-store visit parts.
I’m sitting in a super hipster coffee shop right now in Brooklyn. Devoción. It’s probably as hipster as you can get and I love it! Bueno Vista Social Club is playing in the background and there is a buzz of conversation around me. I’m drinking freshly brewed black (and yes, fair trade!) Colombian coffee out of a FOR-HERE golden yellow cup.
One thing I noticed when I came in was the amount of paper and plastic cups people sitting at the tables have. I specifically asked for my drink to be FOR-HERE merely out of fear they’d give me a paper cup!
I just stopped writing and came back having asked a barista if they do discounts for people who bring their own reusable cups. They don’t.
I struck up a conversation with a guy next to me. I noticed he was doing some type of computer coding – something I’ve been trying to learn. Among the many things we talked about (in what ended up being almost an hour and a half conversation) he mentioned also noticing the plethora of disposable cups used by the FOR-HERErs. I haven’t properly done the calculations, but I imagine encouraging customers to use FOR-HERE cups could help reduce store costs in the long run. But regardless, if people are going to a specialty coffee shop serving up what they claim on their website to be “the finest and freshest”, why the heck would you want it in anything other than a FOR-HERE cup?!
I had a quick (not thorough!) look at Devoción’s sustainability page. It appears to relate to the growing and production process of the coffee beans and didn’t see anything about in-store practices. I’d love to be able to meet (and share) the founder Steven Sutton’s thoughts on this area of sustainability. (Update from the next day, Oct. 4, 2017. I sent a request to meet with Steven but unfortunately it was declined at this time).*
No joke. I just heard a barista ask someone if the order was for-here and saw him grab a yellow cup ceramic. I feel a bit relieved.
Before I go, I want to share one thing from earlier today. A friend in London sent me this pic of Pret a Manger’s menu board.
The sign reads: “Use a REUSABLE CUP and enjoy 25p off your drink.” Awareness is there. It’s only a matter of time before more substantial actions occur.
*October 13, 2017. I met Steven today at the NYC Coffee Festival. There’s a bit of content backlog, explaining how I got in there (posts forthcoming!), but I’ve realized speaking with coffee shop owners is helpful because they may have intentions that are sometimes not conveyed at the store level. For instance, Steven mentioned he looked into (and wanted) biodegradable plastic cups. He ended up going with recyclable plastic because there were no waste options in NYC for compostable cups – they would end up in landfills like trash. I asked if they could go in with food waste. He wasn’t sure and wants to look into this again. I also encouraged him to have his baristas offer customers coffee in for-here cups, and mentioned the idea of providing discounts to people who bring reusable cups. Steven was really open to discussing sustainability and listening to what I had to say. I have a new level of appreciation for Devoción.
Blog originally written on October 3, 2017. Shout out to Helen at Package Free who recommended Devoción. I might have to dedicate an entire blog about this delightful (and newly renovated) home-goods store supporting a zero waste lifestyle!