Think Coffee, Manhattan (Broadway Store). Space. High ceilings. Soft, bright light. Two baristas are behind the counter. It’s quiet. The indie/ambient music is subtle. Several people are seated at individual tables, a few are at the wooden communal tables, most on their laptops.
Before I came, I read the following about their perspective on the environment:
We are aware of the negative impact businesses can have on our natural environment. To lessen our footprint, we use compostable paper products, which do not have a petroleum lining and do not end up as landfill. If you dispose of them in one of our stores, they are picked up and taken to a nearby facility where they are processed and turned into compost. While more expensive than using non-compostable cups, we feel it is important to take the extra care to ensure that our business is as respectful of the environment as possible.
I approach the baristas and we begin talking. In addition to learning about their compostable cups (made by Vegware), their cutlery and straws are eco-friendly too. I’m told grinds are composted.
I ask to try some of the drip of the day – an Ethopian and Latin American blend. The barista reaches for a paper cup and I quickly interject to ask for it to be “for-here”. This makes me wonder if this is a default habit here, and goes back to my thinking that our behaviour is conditioned by a disposable culture.
They have an “All-Gender” restroom (how progressive). No mirror. Soap comes from dispenser and didn’t see packaging for toilet paper. Hand blow dryer instead of paper.
I think there is general awareness in this store about waste, although from observing multiple people sitting with paper and plastic cups, they can do more to encourage the use of ceramic cups.
On a second visit to the store, I speak with another barista and happy to have discovered more information about their efforts to reduce waste. This barista tells me approximately 4-5 times a week the people on duty will take things like left-over bagels and baguettes to a local shelter. This, I’m told is a store-specific action. The baristas on duty do this voluntarily and have built a relationship with the shelter. I’m touched hearing about this. I don’t think most customers know about these good deeds (which also double as sustainable efforts), so feel compelled to share them.