After procrastinating for a while, though every winter I tell myself I won’t, I finally made the time to change my tires over. Luckily, I seemed to be the last one in my town to do so, as there was only one car in the parking lot, leading me to think they were closed! I don’t drive a lot, and fortunately live within easy walking distance to the school I work at, which is probably why I’ve been putting it off…
To my surprise, the dude at Kal-Tire told me it was going to take less than an hour, which was unexpected; he told me to go enjoy a cup of coffee and check back in 45 minutes. Immediately I regretted not taking any marking with me, or at least a book. I decided I’d walk to the local coffee shop a little further away…
“A little further away” is approximately 500 m. I walked down the street, across the highway, down another street, across an avenue, and over a parking lot to get to my warm destination, Hot Shots, where java awaited me (in a porcelain mug, of course).
It was a gloomy day; the rain clouds sat low at the base of the mountains, drizzle rain fell on my hooded head, and the snow turned to slush on the sidewalks. Keeping my eyes up as I walked, I noticed a to-go coffee cup on a patch of grass; a green coloured, holiday-themed, Tim Horton’s to-go coffee cup.
A few steps further I noticed another to-go coffee cup; a bright orange 7-11 to-go cup. Now I really started to look around, left to right, on both sides of the sidewalk.
Again, a little further I saw tall shrubs that lined the sidewalk, and found another cup, sitting among the bare branches, dull in colour; it’d probably been there a while.
After my short trek I found thirteen discarded, one-time-used, to-go coffee cups, which brought me to the question: how long is the lifecycle of a to-go coffee cup?
Well, probably the amount of time it takes you to drink it. There were several chain coffee shops close by; my assumption was that someone purchased it, walked down the street with it, and simply tossed it aside when they were finished.
This brought me to another thought. I bring my travel mug with me if I’m out and haven’t had my morning coffee; I make the assumption that I will want it, so I prepare for that, because I know my habits. The mug comes with me on road trips, and on short outings with friends if I know we will stop for coffee. Several people have said to me, “Well, aren’t they recyclable? Can’t you just recycle them?”
But how many people actually do?
How many people take the time to hold on to their to-go cup after they have purchased it to bring it home or to work to recycle it? I’d say that number is minimal. Also, most cups with their plastic linings cannot be recycled, and you can’t tell me that people are going to take the time to remove the flimsy plastic liner to recycle the paper cup! The lid is also plastic, and though recyclable, it is left to break apart into tiny pieces that will eventually be gobbled up by creatures who think it’s food, or head to our water systems. Why? Because we live in a society that revolves around convenience, and taking a plastic lid home to recycle from a quick to-go cup, is simply inconvenient.
I also didn’t have a bag with me to collect these. Typically if I’m hiking or walking with friends, I always keep a plastic bag for the times I see cans or other recyclable items. However, that’s one person; and if for that one person, thirteen others throw their to-go cups in the bush…well… that just leaves a sad feeling in my heart.