If everyone did one little thing…

Guest Post by Judy Clement Wall

Last week I had a meeting in one of my favorite coffee shops. (When I rule the world, all meetings will take place in coffee shops or parks. Unless you have props that require more than just a wireless connection. Then you can hold your meeting in a conference room but don’t be surprised if no one comes because they’re busy going to fun meetings in coffee shops and parks.)

Normally I order my coffee in a real cup so there is nothing to recycle, but this time I ordered an iced latte and didn’t even to think to ask if they had real glasses. When I finished, I checked (born again recycler that I am) the bottom of the cup and found it was recyclable. I looked for a place to put it and finding only regular garbage cans, I held onto it until my meeting was over, then asked the barista on my way out if they had a place for recyclables. She said yes and took my cup into a back room where, presumably, she dropped it into the top secret recycle bin not available to customers.

I am left to ponder:

  1. Was there really a recycle bin in the back room? I hope so, but how do I know?
  2. What about all the people who didn’t think to check their cups or didn’t bother to bother the barista when they were through?
  3. What about my straw? Was that recyclable too? (I threw it in the regular trash.)

I think change comes slowly and often through grass roots efforts. Successful businesses respond to their customers (or get bailed out, but that is an entirely different blog post). Next time I visit my favorite little coffee shop, I will ask for a real glass. If they don’t have one, I will suggest (nicely and with a smile and a big, huge compliment for their comfortable seating, numerous outlets and free wireless) that they consider adding a garbage can strictly for recyclables. Maybe with a sign that encourages patrons to recycle.

As we become more conscious of our impact on the planet, and more discerning as customers, businesses will become more aware and responsible as well. They will sell more coffee (or whatever), we will feel better about buying it and the planet will get healthier. Everyone wins.

It’s a little thing, but I feel good about having decided to do it – plant the green seed at my favorite coffee shop. If a lot of people do a lot of little things, we can make a big difference.

So… what little thing will you do?


7 responses to “If everyone did one little thing…

  1. It’s good that in your country it’s possible to do that, ask the coffee shop barista and suggest they try addig a garbage can for recyclables.
    Where I live it’s only at the power of every person in their home to do things like this… it’s sad really 😦
    There are recycling centers where you can take your recyclables, but besides paper bags I didn’t really see anything new in the mall, coffee shops, etc.
    But as you’ve said if a lot of people do a lot of little things, we can make a big difference. That’s why in my home I do everything possible to keep it eco friendly.

  2. what an excellent idea! i’m eco-conscious at home, and learning more all the time. but so often i feel like there’s nothing i can do to influence the rest of the world – especially since companies these days are so huge and impersonal. but you’re right – if we just let businesses know what we want, especially smaller business, i bet they’d be responsive. we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    thank you for the inspiration! i don’t know what my “one little thing” will be yet – but i’ll let you know when i find it.

  3. J,
    Thanks for the guest post! It was marvelous!

    Sadly, it’s not all the same across this country. There are huge variances in recycling efforts. I posted about it a few weeks back.

    Come back and tell us when you do!
    Chad M. Wall

  4. Hey Jude,

    Recently I yelped about one of my favorite local lunch places. I gave them the highest possible grades because I love their food but I did make a Con comment regarding their use of polystyrene containers and plastic implements. The owner posted to me the next day thanking me for my review and saying that they would look into biodegradable containers. Then he posted they are making the switch.

    It was all them but I’m glad that a small review’s comment may have made the extra straws worth of weight to move them to the green side of the force.

    Other than that, I’m a consumate recycler at home. For the last 30 years I have also always cut up sixpack plastic holders after seeing a horrible photo of a seal with one trapped around his mouth.

    Every little bit helps, but the world needs more. I heard a joke regarding that we give one day a year and call it Earth day. Perhaps in 500 years the Earth will put one day aside and call it people day in memory of the funny little water bags that used to live on its surface till they managed to poison themselves out of existance.

  5. John,
    That’s a great story, and it clearly demonstrates Judy’s point. Little things can lead to change, can make a difference. The key is to integrate awareness and positive behavior into society’s conscience, in everyone’s everyday thinking. That’s when little things make big things happen.

    Thanks for doing your part.
    Chad M. Wall

  6. eric williams

    I recently had an epiphany of sorts when posting to my facebook. In general, I find interesting articles and post them to my facebook. With any luck, someone else reads them and perhaps we can even engage in discussion. One day, I got a particularly rude and ignorant comment concerning the environment from a family member of my girlfriend. I debated the course of action and eventually rebutted with an effort to be neutral and non-inflammatory… though I can’t attest to the effectiveness of those efforts…

    Anyway, in discussing this interaction with my girlfriend, we dismissed this family member as a small fish and that the world doesn’t care about this small little town where things are the way they are. We triumphantly decided there were bigger fish to fry and that we would let this family member be.

    It occurred to me, however, this family member was an owner of a particularly popular bar, in a particularly small town on a peculiar stretch of highway that sees 1000’s of tourists during the summer months. I thought to myself, “hmm, this family member actually has the power and influence to change the general mindset of this town of 500 and in doing so alter the perception of those going through the town for a bite.” Perhaps it may even become a bastion of green for those tourists who are seeking something a little less rural in the trek between vacation and home…a trek that inevitably takes you through some red blooded occupancy.

    It then occurred to me that perhaps my girlfriend and I were a bit presumptuous in the size of the fish that we are going to fry, for we are barely post college and not running for office at the moment. Perhaps through our efforts and influence, two tiny, insignificant, post college students could influence the shape of an entire town.

    I have found that environmental concerns are remarkably apolitical when you add information and remove conflict of interest. Since this relative in unaffiliated with GM or Exxon, this should be relatively easy.

    The short version is, YES, no action is too small! We will be challenging our circle of influence to take a hard look at the data and the future.

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