Do Little Things Make a Difference?

As much as possible, I try to carry my own reusable cup, and always carry a reusable water bottle.  These are very small actions, and in the scheme of the world and all its consumption, probably don't make any difference at all, but I want to at least feel like I'm trying.  

Starbucks Reusable Cup

Starbucks Reusable Cup

I'm worried that I came across as rude.  I didn't mean to.  I meant to be instructive, and yet there was so little time in the interaction that I could do no more than make my point.  The person on the receiving end walked away saying, "I'm sorry."

That wasn't my intention.  Part of carrying my own cup is that it allows me to get the cheapest cup of coffee possible. As part of my therapy, I'm supposed to go out to public places to be around other people. Conveniently, there's a Starbucks not far from where I live.  I'm not in a financial position to be your average Starbucks customer, and therefore I carry my own cup and order a small (tall) decaf coffee.  It's the cheapest beverage available and with the "bring your own cup discount" comes to $1.89.  Yes, even that is more than I can really afford to spend, but I spend it once or twice a week and then will sit for hours, writing, people watching, and feeling slightly uncomfortable. 

She said she was sorry because I told her that there was no reason to waste another cup when brewing my coffee.  Rather than be uncertain about the amount of coffee that she was putting into my cup, she brewed the decaf into a tall disposable cup, and then poured it into my cup. The cup that the coffee was brewed into was then thrown away. It turns out that when the reusable cup was created, they put a line on the inside to indicate where a tall would be.  I pointed this out to the barista.  

I so often see unnecessary waste behind the counter at Starbucks. I'm sure most of it is never given a second thought, but it makes me cringe every time I see two or three cups used to make one beverage, or when a new lid gets added to a refilled beverage while the recipient is holding on to their original lid.  It's one more piece of plastic ending up in the world. Not only is it bad for the world, it's bad for the bottom line of Starbucks.  

Every other business I've ever watched, including the one that I used to be part of the management of had areas of waste that could have easily been avoided if people just gave it a moment of thought. Is it just that we as a society are not trained to think this way? Should we consider the convenience and savings of a moment to be worth the waste of natural resources? 

Damn, I sound preachy.  I waste plenty. I don't want to do so. I want to have a leave no trace, carbon neutral impact on the earth, but of course I don't. I just wonder how much could be saved if everyone were conscious of the little things like not wasting one cup or one piece of paper. 

Alas, we may never know.