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When are we going to wake up and smell the money? Let’s forget the marketing and branding potential for a few minutes (I’ll get to that later). How about we look at just the real, hard savings from taking a few small sustainable actions. I frequent numerous coffee shops around my area, and one thing always strikes me: waste. Wasted paper, disposable cups, and wasted energy. The following is the walk through of my coffee run this morning, concentrating on how this particular coffee shop can help themselves and help us all in the process. Next time you are at your local java spot, have a look around and see if you can’t
- The door is propped open, and as I walk in I’m hit with a blast of air conditioning. Every excessive degree of AC work is responsible for approximately 1/2 ton of carbon annually. I estimate keeping the door open accounts for a five degree temperature change, or a 2.5 ton carbon swing. Most importantly, with energy at about $0.11 per kwh, every reduction is money in the bank. I’d estimate a total savings of $150: if you live in Florida double that.
- As I approach the counter, the woman in front of me walks away with a cardboard tray of coffees and several bags of baked goods. One tray, four cups, four lids, four stirrers, sugar packets, two bags (with wax paper inside the bags) and napkins. Use four reusable mugs and everyone wins. We eliminate copious waste, the woman’s coffees stay warm longer, and the business owner cuts down on inventory (so they can incentivize the customer with a “mug discount”).
- I get to the counter, order an iced coffee (I love my mug, for personal and ecological reasons), and a scone. The barrista grabs the scone with the ubiquitous wax paper and is about to place it in a bag when I tell him it is to stay. I look around and 75% of the people in coffee shop are eating bagels and croissants out of paper bags. Using reusable dishware cuts down on waste and inventory, not to mention it’s much more pleasant to eat off a plate then out of a bag.
- Looking up and around, there are about 30 lights in the establishment between table lighting and ceiling lighting. Every single one is incandescent. The day has come for that to be criminal…sorry to the doubters, the lighting quality is equal now, CFL’s are dimmable, costs are dropping. Oh yeah, and every bulb my coffee shop switches out will be responsible for about $25 of savings annually, or $750 annually for 30 lights. No brainer.
- Without being long winded, here are the rest of the issues that could be addressed at all of our local coffee shops: Newspaper/bottle/can recycling, leaky sinks, electronic thermostat, bring-your-own bag/mug discounts, refillable sugar containers, and my all time biggest peeve, bottled water…I hate bottled water.
I’m not suggesting solar panels, geothermal pumps, or hydrogen powered vehicles. Just simple changes for your Gourmet Perks that can make a difference, both for the environment and the wallet.
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