Catch Up and New Contributor

I’d like to do some catch up and introduce a new contributor who will write posts from time to time, as well help run the BYO*ToGo social media accounts (byotogo on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook).

Catch up. From writing the Coffee Shop Hop series, one of the most consistent things I noticed was customers sitting in shops with disposable cups when ceramic and/or glass cups were available. Set aside the environment, this is not cost effective. Shops have to pay for cup inventory and are charged by haulers for the amount of waste (volume or weight) they produce.

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Some context. New York City set a goal to be zero waste by 2030. Research indicates 50% of trash in public waste bins is made up of disposable cups and takeout containers. If New Yorkers switched to reusable cups, a large amount of waste would be reduced from that action alone. Another (un)fun fact: over 100 billion disposable cups end up in landfills every year in America.

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So I’ve decided this disposable situation needs to be dealt with and started Cup Switch (@cupswitch on Instagram). Right now it’s mainly an awareness campaign to permeate cultural change.

Having started Cup Switch, I’ve discovered a large supportive community of people promoting sustainable lifestyles. This is how I met Vik, who happened to have the same Instagram alias as this blog! I’ll let her introduce herself below. She’s very passionate about the BYO thing so we’ve decided to join forces and create content in this area.

Hey! My name is Victoria Margarita but I prefer Vik. I live on the central coast of California in San Luis Obispo. I work a 9-5 during the day in social media and have a fashion focused blog that keeps me creative in my spare time. I love photography and upcycling clothing. I wish I had more fun facts but I’m pretty much a workaholic, my idea of fun is getting things done! I became interested in the war against waste in middle school when I learned about the Pacific Garbage Patch. The more I learn about the fashion industry the more I see how unsustainable it is. I started adding writing about conscious consuming and ethical products on my blog but it didn’t feel like enough. I knew I could do more to reflect these values in my own life.

When I started thinking of creating an account for reusable togo containers my goal was just to remind people that disposables aren’t the only option and that we can take control and responsibility for our waste without skipping out on our beloved caffeinated drinks. The light bulb went off when I thought of a hashtag for the movement #BYOTOGO and to my delight it wasn’t being used by anyone online. When creating the username @byotogo it was already taken by what seemed to be an inactive account so I settled for @byo_togo. I started following like-minded accounts and came across an account featuring photos of trash on the streets of NYC that caught my eye. That account was @cupswitch. I left a comment saying that I loved the concept of photographing trash because the viewer has to really stop, see and process the image. Instead of walking by it on the street without a second glance. Shortly after following Cup Switch they sent me a DM. And to my surprise she was the owner of the assumed inactive @byotogo account! This is how I met Megan 😀

My vision of byotogo is to grow the ripple into a tsunami of actions. I just want fresh air, a clean ocean and a better planet for the future generations. You know, the basics.

Coffee Shop Hop #13

Some stuff coming down the pipeline for BYO*ToGo but had some unfinished business. A visit to Blue Bottle Coffee.

Blue Bottle Coffee, Chelsea. There are several people standing near the cash register waiting for their coffee. It’s sounds of light conversation and coffee grinding that fill the air. No music. Open, high ceilings – this place was once a loading dock.

I make my way up the stairs to survey the seating situation. I see a guy starting to move things to one side of a bar table. We make eye contact and indicate my interest in the spot. He says, “yes! I’m consolidating”. We both laugh and I tell him I’m usually the one sprawled out. He’s on a quick break from shooting for Video Fashion.

I head back down to the front of the store with my reusable and order the drip coffee that they prepare fresh (pour over). I begin telling a tall, friendly baristas about the various projects I’m involved in as I wait for my coffee. He mentions I can speak with the manager who happens to be in today. A flood of  people trickle in so I step aside to let him take the orders and move over to the counter where the other barista is making my coffee.

A few minutes later, my coffee is handed to me in a PAPER CUP! *breath in aaaannnd out* A surge of panic mixed with utter dejection rises in me. I Blue Bottled it. I forgot how vigilance is really important for avoiding the use of disposables.

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I pour the coffee into my reusable and put the the paper cup in my bag. “I’ll find some use for it” I say to console myself.

An hour passes. I see a silver bearded man with a striped black and white shirt walk up the stairs. Immediately I know it’s Pedro, the store manager. He has a warm smile and greets me in his Spanish accent.

I begin with full-on information blast of everything I’ve been working on. Pedro remains quiet, patiently and intently listening to me. After this info session, I’m told about what the company is doing around sustainability, which is one of their three values (deliciousness and hospitality are the other two). All cups AND straws are biodegradable. They don’t waste their roasted coffee, sometimes using leftover for cold brew.  All the New York stores have in-store composting for customers except for the Chelsea location (building management doesn’t use a hauler with this option).

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Pedro also highlights the company’s efforts on sustainable coffee packaging and sourcing, farmer education programs, and mentions the charitable work with their Blue Bottle Coffee Foundation (was trying to find more info on this with little luck, but read here how it was described as “a way to champion and fundraise for various causes, connecting each coffee shop with a local charity”). A sense of warmth envelops my chest hearing about these efforts. I can see and feel Pedro is deeply invested in this commitment to sustainability and charitable work.

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As we close our conversation, Pedro turns and says to me, “this made my whole day.” Another hit right in the feels!

I’m walking away with a greater appreciation for what this company is doing, and hoping they’ll be able to find an effective way to raise greater awareness among their customers of their efforts and actions, as well as increase their use of “for here cups” for stay in customers.

FYI, the bathroom inspection is non-existent because there wasn’t one. No drink discount for bringing your own cup (at least not yet ;), but they are happy to make your drink using it, regardless of size. Also, if you you happen to be around the area with your furry friend, they’ve got your him/her covered with a bowl of treats!

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One final fun fact. The name Blue Bottle is in honor of the first coffee house that opened in Europe (Vienna, Austria). The story of how that came about which involved this this dude Kolshitsky and some 007 work to drive out the Turkish Army in the late 1600’s is worth a read!