January 25, 2019

The struggle with reducing waste

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It all started with wanting to buy bread.  It was lunchtime, and I figured I'd buy some bread for the weekend and grab something to eat at the same time.  So I headed towards my neighborhood Eric Kayser, wanting to switch things up a little from my usual visits to Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon.

On my way I passed by one of the numerous Starsucks outlets, and I remembered that I've got a gift certificate on me that I've been meaning to use.  I hadn't had my dose of caffeine today and really could use a little pick-me-up.  And I know Starsucks has mugs for dine-in customers, which is great if you are environmentally conscious and want to reduce waste.

But as much as I wanted a cup of coffee and use up my gift certificate, I didn't really care to sit down and order up something to eat there.  So I kept walking and entered Eric Kayser for the bread I wanted.

After picking out a baguette and a couple of croissants, I decided to get something for lunch.  The croque monsieur looked good, and there were seats for dining in... but they don't use mugs here.  For the sake of not wasting a single-use paper cup that is lined - and therefore not recyclable - I decided to get the croque monsieur to go.  I had brought my reusable shopping bag so I didn't feel too bad about myself, even though I was frustrated that the staff had chosen to put the two croissants in two separate paper bags instead of one.

When the staff finished heating my croque monsieur, I was surprised to see them put it in a cardboard box with a plastic window.  I had expected them to stick it in a paper bag, but now there was a piece of plastic involved.  What made things worse was that the cardboard box had been lined, so that's not recyclable.  My efforts to avoid clogging up our landfills with single-use containers ended in defeat.  I was flabbergasted.

We already generate enough waste in our daily lives, so I'm constantly looking for ways where I could cut down on my contribution to the landfills - or to the world's staggering and ever-increasing pile of plastic.  Aside from doing away with single-use plastics like straws, when we shop in supermarkets, we end up using single-use plastics which are used to wrap fruits, vegetables, bread, and much, much more.  Just bringing along my reusable shopping bag is merely the first, small step in a long, long way we still have to go.

I wish businesses would teach their employees to be more environmentally conscious, and here are a few things we could be doing better:

- I wish restaurant staff would ask customers whether they wanted a straw instead of automatically sticking one in a glass.

- I wish cafes and coffee shops would stop serving drinks in lined paper cups or plastic cups to dine-in customers, although I understand from an earlier discussion with friends that it may stem from a licensing issue - which is totally silly.

- I wish bakeries and cafes would ask their customers if it's OK to put multiple pieces of bread or pastries into one bag, instead of packing them individually.

- I wish Starsucks would stop putting a plastic fork, a plastic knife, and a pack of ketchup into the paper bag along with my sausage roll when customers order it to-go.  I'm sure plenty of their customers would be happy to eat the sausage roll right out of the bag, without having to cut it with utensils.

- I wish people would dine-in more and do less take-out.  That will reduce the overall use of single-use containers. 

- I wish people would inconvenience themselves a little bit more, and cut down on the number of times they order food delivery.  I practically stopped eating delivery food years ago, because it 1) comes in much smaller portions for the same price, 2) never arrives at the right temperature, and 3) ends up wasting so many containers which end up in landfills.

- I wish people would stop buying all those bubble tea-type drinks.  They always come in plastic, and create a shit ton of waste.

Anyway... I think I'm done ranting now.  I've ranted about the same issue a few times over the years, but the episode today just really pissed me off.  But I AM incredibly frustrated at how, even with me consciously trying to find ways to reduce waste, I am still sending a ton of stuff to the landfills.  EFFORTS MUST BE REDOUBLED.

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