Things Disposable

Reviewing Starbucks’ $1 Reusable Cup

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imageI spent a bit of time this week making sure that I interacted with the little $1 cup from Starbucks. I’m happy to say that for the most part, this is a great little cup, nothing to be ashamed of carrying to and from your favorite local coffee shop!

CONS: Let’s start with the cons, so we end with the good stuff. First, it’s not the prettiest cup you’ll ever buy. The cup and lid are two different plastics, the cup in a slightly off-white and the lid in bright white. The cup’s off-white to yellow body reminds me of the old PC computers that were all in the slowly yellowing plastic. Remember those? Yeah, not pretty. Secondly, the thin plastic of the cup will heat up and burn your hand. When you first pick it up you think you don’t need the paper sleeve, but ya do.

PROS: Now the good stuff! First, The cup is good for both tall and grande drinks, or small and medium at normal coffee shops. =) I think the first thing I read online the other day said the cup would hold a venti drink, but that would be a big cup, tumbler size. Secondly, the cup is dishwasher safe! I try to hand wash all my cups anyway, to minimize the bump and chip in a washer. But, you can just drop this one in the top rack! Thirdly, and though I haven’t field tested this aspect, the cup says it microwave safe! That’s a plus for reheating water in a pinch. And finally, the satin finish on the cup and printed layout familiar to a paper cup makes it fun to personalize! If you want to, ask them how to mark your favorite drink and save time on your next visit to refill.

I hope the cheap price point and novelty will catch some attention. This is a great alternative to a paper cup and a fun way to start reusing instead of disposing!

Oh Yeah… Cold Cups!

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big gulpI want to mention reusing cold cups instad of simply disposing of them, or better yet, carry a nice reusable cold cup! Most coffee shops that also sell cold or iced drinks will sell cold cups just as they sell hot drink cups.

But it’s not so easy as it seems! There’s obviously a different part of the brain associated with carrying a reusable cold drink cup. I say that completely scientifically. I have no trouble remembering to carry a coffee cup, and though I own a nice reusable cold cup, I can’t remember it to save my life.

But the payoffs are the same as reusable hot cups when it comes to preventing waste. I don’t kick myself too badly when I’m out & about and don’t have a reusable cold cup for that iced venti Passion Tea Lemonade from Starbucks, but I can make sure to keep that plastic cup, wash and reuse it a couple of times.

I am trying to break my addiction to Diet Coke right now, so I am using that Big Gulp image as a reminder to, well… “Just say no.” But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep my reusable cold cups handy for the trips to the Starbucks!

Refillable Bottles of Balsamic!

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It’s Saturday and I have been shopping, running errands for work, light plumbing and geting the big dog to a grooming appointment… I’m tired. But I did want to write something fast for the “Things Disposable” theme…

refill balsamicMy family is full of Balsamic Vinegar lovers! And in Bethesda you can use a refillable bottle at Bradley Food & Beverage (check out their stunning website, lol) instead of simply buying new bottles every time you need more vinegar! They also have refillable olive oil bottles! I refilled a bottle of Balsamic, today!

If you are near enough, check it out and save some bottles! If you live further away, check around and see if someone close to you offers the same! Think of it as an adventure!

Forever Homes for Pocket Knives

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I don’t suppose it would be exactly correct to say that reusable is necessarily the opposite of disposable, but it’s surely a good alternative much of the time. And so many things in our lives can be nudged away from being disposed of, and moved back into good use, or reuse. One of the things I have found a good bit of pleasure with is rescuing and reusing old pocket knives on their way to the disposal pile.

clean imperial scoutI post pics on Facebook often of knives I’ve found, bought, cleaned and sharpened. What I don’t often talk about or show pictures of are the “forever homes” that I also sometimes find for the pocket knives. Many come into my hands rusted and dulled beyond safe use… but just a little oil, whetstone work and patience brings them back to a place of purpose and meaning. The Imperial Scout shown here is the knife I’m currently carrying for daily use.

I love the older, cheap American made knives, a few of my favorites being Camillus, Camco and Imperial. Though I find a reason to use my pocket knife’s sharpened blade every day, I love a secondary blade with the bottle opener/flat-head screwdriver combo! I use that one as often as I use the sharpened cutting blade.

Are you a pocket knife person? Would you be willing to give an old pocket knife a new life of usefulness and purpose? I have joked about making an online adoption site for rescued pocket knives, but I’m not sure I have that much time… in the meanwhile, just let me know and I’ll see if we can find a good match for you!

Bottom line, we junk and throw away too many great old pocket knives that can be made useful again, disposing of useful items! I wonder what else we dispose of before it’s time?

Coffee Cup Dare!

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I dare you to start carrying a coffee cup everywhere you go, if you’re a coffee drinker! If you’re not a coffee drinker, then go take a nap like the rest of us can’t. And I guess this works as well for the tea drinkers (says I while sipping some herbal tea at my desk).

guatemala cup

I was down at one of the four Starbucks in Bethesda yesterday looking for an elusive Yukon coffee cup (the one with a bear on it), but instead found a newly released Guatemala cup! Woot! I visited Guatemala in 2003… stayed a few days in Old Anitgua. It’s a lovely country and totally delightful people!

I’m not sure if we can really ever quantify the waste produced by disposable coffee cups in our country. So carry a cup… to work, to school, to your mosque or your church, and even to the coffee shop!

Here’s the deal about carrying your own coffee cup:
1) You won’t eliminate all the disposable cup waste in the world, but you’ll eliminate some of yours,
2) You won’t save a ton of money, even though most coffee shops give a $.10 discount when you bring your own, and
3) It’s a really nice way to help your community and environment.

Oh, and now Starbucks wants to make this all even easier and cheaper with reusable $1 cups that are rolling out TODAY! How can you beat that?

The Need for Speed

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As I begin thinking about things in my life that are disposable, two values really jump out at me: 1) speed and 2) convenience. We often opt for disposable things because they offer a level of speed that is not otherwise available with things reused. Easy example: our food choices.

20130102_073500I have been sitting at La Madeleine this morning having breakfast. Though the napkins are one-time use things, the plate, flatware and water glass are shared items. They have been used and will be used again. It’s a slower way to eat, especially in contrast to fast food items designed to be be consumed and leave behind a waste trail of bagging, wrapping, condiment tubes, cups and straws.

It’s easy to recognize the enormous waste produced by fast food. It takes a little more effort to recognize the toll on our lives by a food system driven by speed. I believe that our appreciation of food suffers, and therefore our appreciation of what food does for us suffers, and therefore we suffer. All to be a little faster, cheaper or have a bit more convenience.

My mother’s parents grew food. They weren’t the typical American farmers out in Middle America, but they lived in a suburban city near Dallas and farmed a modest little couple of acres in town where housing development couldn’t happen, and a good chunk of their back yard. My grandparents also kept bees. He was a carpenter by trade, she a seamstress, so I think the idea of patient craftsmanship was easily extended to food. I remember both my grandparents working hard, but I don’t remember them being frantic. Ever.

Disposable things are feeding the beast of haste in our lives. Disposable things are making it too easy to rush through important times and segments of the day. If we begin the day devaluing the very food we eat and rushing through the first nourishment we will provide ourselves, how do we later slow down and become appreciative?

Speed is deceptive. Speed can be alluring and exciting. Speed can give the impression of importance and power. But speed will also do what speed always does: it leaves things behind. Perhaps our rejecting the disposable food experience is a good step toward affirming that there are not “disposable times” in our day. Each moment is valuable. Each moment is a gift.

And here’s a few things I found online, food for thought:
How To Slow Down
“Slow Down” by Keb’ Mo’
10 Ways to Slow Down the Speed of Your Day

“Things Disposable” in 2013

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So in this, the beginning of 2013 (Happy New year!) I feel the desire to dig a little deeper into an area that I have only brushed up against in the past bunch of years, and that is the effort to remove “disposable” things from my life.

If you know me, then you know I usually carry my own coffee mug, because I hate the waste of disposable coffee cups. But if you know me then you also know I am surrounded by those disposable 44oz soda cups from 7-11, because I’m an addict.

This month I’m going to think about what is disposable and what I need & want to do about “disposable” things in my life. I think there is some truth in the old saying, “Waste not, want not.” But there’s also the effort and cost involved in not going disposable with many of our daily things.

Today is just the jump off, so I’ll simply say that the new header image for the blog includes a disposable cup from our family’s favorite tea shop, and it’s the last one I’ll accept in 2013. Either I take a reusable cup to the shop, or buy a cup to reuse, or it’s no tea for me that day.

Cheers, Todd
Jan. 1, 2012