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Saturday, February 11, 2012

How Much To Sweat the Small Stuff

by Linda from The Witches Kitchen

I have taken to getting a cup of takeaway coffee on my way to work lately. I used to always just make a cup myself, but the café  has the best skinny latté. It's a little treat I really enjoy, and it took me a shamefully long time to actually realise how many takeaway coffee cups I was throwing away. I live near a small country town. I didn't want to make a fuss or stand out by bringing in my own cup. I was in denial until one day I went to empty the waste basket under my desk, and it was full of paper cups.  

So I'm very much in love with my new KeepCup, and the local café loves it too. Being a total cheapskate, it took a deep breath to spend that much on a cup, but it just works and my frugal side only regrets money wasted on junk, not money spent on things that work.

Usually I take my lunch to work too, or buy it at the local café. Most days, this is my lunch packaging.


But I got caught up in town the other day, and had to buy a quick take-away lunch from the supermarket.  It amazed me the quantity of packaging.  If I did this every day for a year.... 
 

It adds up.  Each little bit seems reasonable, but it adds up. 

I do believe it is counterproductive to get all moralistic and purist about the small stuff. It just creates the kind of culture that normal, fallible, doing-their-best mortals feel excluded from. But at the same time, the small things like takeaway coffee in a reuseable cup, or a lunch box that doesn't require plastic wrap, often involve no real sacrifices at all. They're the low hanging green fruit. It's just a bit hard to see them sometimes. 

9 comments:

claudia said...

A reusable cup is something I don't mind spluging on. I have a few of them, because there are times I forget my cup at work or one is dirty and i am lazy, so I am never without.

Jen R said...

Lots of small things do add up, excess packaging does my head in sometime :)

Kristy said...

I think it's the attitude one takes, when doing the small things (and the big things for that matter) that come across as 'doing your bit' vs 'purist' as you describe it.

So do all you can with the right attitude I reckon :)

dixiebelle said...

I have stopped drinking coffee anyways, and I found my KeepCup too plasticky (and tainted with coffee) for my tea. They caught on BIG time in my workplace, with the coffee shop selling them, and people checking each other's 'colour combinations' out!

I really dislike food courts for the huge amount of waste, though we've had to use a couple recently (oh, that convenience you can't avoid needing sometimes!), that seem to have recycling bins BUT whether people use them correctly or not, who would know.

I like the 80/20 guideline, that you can't expect to be 100% 'pure' with so many things, but if you can set yourself an acceptable level (80%, 85%, more, less) there will be less stress/ disappointment/ anger/ guilt at yourself when you don't stick to the standards or values you usually like to.

dixiebelle said...

(More about the 80/20 rule here: http://www.greenphonebooth.com/2010/03/8020-rule-for-going-green.html)

Frogdancer said...

"my frugal side only regrets money wasted on junk, not money spent on things that work."

That's EXACTLY how I feel!

Winter said...

80/20 excellent goal! it is a small thing, the throw away cups and the boxes and bags from lunch. They do add up. It's the overall attitude about it. I get very frustrated that they don't recycle in MOST places. At work, at the school..I even get frustrated with friends who don't do it..I figure it's just common sense by now..sheesh. I can't force them though and my small part, combined with the small parts of those like minded individuals I try and connect with, learn from and grow with..well...a small difference is still a difference. :)

Erin Chin said...

"They're the low hanging green fruit. It's just a bit hard to see them sometimes."

I love this imagery!

Cadence said...

Wonderful post. It often drives me crazy when people say things like: "it's *just* a water bottle". The word 'just' (in this form) makes me want to give their heads a shake. The small things DO count. We may not be able to make changes in corporate policies but we can reduce our use of plastics, driving, eating processed foods, etc...