Sunday, June 24, 2007

Little Paper Cups

This is an email that I sent a little while ago to the manager of Carberry's Cafe and Bakery. I'm not sure but I thought maybe it would be appropriate for this forum.... ?


Dear Carberry's,

My name is Erik Uzureau and I was in Cambridge on business last week staying on Amory street. Every day I would walk to work on Mass Ave, passing your cafe. I stopped in on a Sunday to have a coffee in the sunshine from the parking lot. Very relaxing.

One thing really did bother me, though. I notice that you do not have any option other than paper cups for your coffee. For take away orders, I guess that's the only way to do it, but when people are taking their coffee in the establishment, it would surely be nicer to offer a real coffee mug, wouldn't it? I personally prefer the drinking experience from a ceramic mug to drinking from a waxy paper cup immensely.

Beyond the mere issue of "preference", I think it is worth noting that by offering only paper cups, your establishment is generating massive amounts of unnecessary paper garbage. It may be the case that you are somehow recycling these cups, but even so it is still a wasteful process.

Why is our society so comfortable with this style of disposable goods? Have we managed to completely forget that these cups are actually made from trees (and chemicals to paint them pretty colors)?

I tend to think of Cambridge as a pretty "progressive" neighborhood. I am frankly disappointed, however, to see how many local establishments like yours seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that our planet is being progressively destroyed by human beings and their wasteful habits.

Sure, one guy using a ceramic mug instead of a paper cup is not going to change the world. But a whole cafe eschewing paper cups could make a difference, especially over time. And imagine if *every* cafe followed that model? Then it could really make a difference.

Now, I imagine the counter-argument is that you will have to not only *buy* these mugs, but you will also have to wash them on a regular basis, and maybe even pick up after your customers. Well, I imagine that there is a kitchen in Carberry's as it is a bakery, so there is probably already a dishwasher. How much extra effort would it really be to collect the mugs and get them back there?

I bet if you gave people the option of paying 10 cents extra for a mug instead of a paper cup -- and you explained to them the reason behind it -- most people would probably be happy to chip in the extra ten cents. I actually make it a point to get my coffee at Mariposa Bakery on Mass Ave, a little further along on my walk to work, for the simple reason that they don't serve it in paper cups.

Anyways, these are just some thoughts I had that I thought I'd share with you. I bet there's other people out there who think the same thing, but maybe just don't say it. That's sort of the way things are in America these days. People are afraid to say what they really think because they're afraid other people will call them a wierdo. That goes on long enough and people become afraid to think. I don't like that.

I think the heaping garbage can full of senseless garbage is a real eye-sore in your business.

Erik Uzureau


Saume said...

I wonder how much more green my kids will be than I am - admittedly I could do more and need to teach them habits now.

I'm thinking about how to make the school I work at "green". Maybe do some campaigning?

Thanks for writing that letter, wonder if they will act?

Marge said...

Good post.