To celebrate this past New Year’s Eve a group of friends and I spent a few days on the beautiful island of Terschelling, in the north of the Netherlands. We rented a little house and spent New Year’s eve watching fireworks in the town square and drinking “jutter” – the local liquor – in some cafés around town. Terschelling is famous for its wide beaches all along the northwest coast. Besides being a great place to go for a summer holiday, it’s also the perfect spot to find any sort of treasures that wash up from the North Sea. “Jutten” is the local term for treasure hunting on the beach.
On January 1st we woke up and made a plan to go for a walk in the dunes and see if there was anything interesting to be found on the beach. (On January 2nd, we would wake up to find the entire island on the north beach scavenging for leather sandals, flatscreen tv’s, ikea shelves and My Little Pony’s that had fallen off the biggest container ship in the world, on its way from China to Denmark. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life, if you missed it see pictures here). But first we needed a coffee, so we stopped by a café in town and opted for coffee to go so we could continue on our mission.
However then someone needed to use the toilet, and someone else got a call from a long-lost lover which they obviously had to take. And so, we ended up drinking our coffee-to-go on the comfortable outside deck next to the coffee shop.
While we were sipping our coffee, the conversation turned to plastic and how the earth is being consumed by it. We all agreed everyone should be doing more to reduce the use of single use plastics – governments should be implementing bans, companies
should be looking for alternatives and us as consumers should be pressuring companies and governments to do this. As usual with this topic the conversation ended with a sigh and a shoulder shrug – what can you do?
And then we did something that millions of people do every day. As we all got up to go we threw our disposable coffee cups with plastic lids into the trash can outside the café. Seven cups and seven lids wasted because we could have just gotten ceramic cups as we were sitting on the terrace anyways. The irony was not lost on us and someone made a joke about it, but later I kept thinking about the incident and how silly it was. We were talking about how much we despised plastic and how bad it was for the world, while drinking through a plastic lid that we hadn’t even really needed to use! Of course, you could argue about what difference seven plastic lids are going to make if you look at how much plastic is dumped into the ocean every day in India. (Or when 270 containers full of stuff fall of a ship and cover kilometers of coastline in trash) But how can we expect the world to change if we don’t change ourselves? And on a more personal but not unimportant note – how can I expect to be happy if I am not living according to my values?
The things you think about when having coffee! This incident helpfully gave me a very practical new year’s resolution for 2019: no more disposable coffee cups and definitely no plastic lids.
Besides these philosophical reasons, here are a few more good reasons to get rid of disposable coffee cups in 2019:
There are some awesome alternatives out there for reusable coffee cups. For example this Stanley coffee mug is a thermos and won’t leak in your bag. Or get a Keep Cup if you want to keep it simple. (both also available at Bever)
You can often save money by bringing your own cup as some coffee houses offer a discount when you do. The NS (national rail service in the Netherlands) announced a few months ago that you get 25 cents off if you bring your own cup at Julia’s, AH to-go, Kiosk, and Starbucks and a few other shops in all their stations.
You can always take 5 minutes out of your busy schedule to sit at a café and have your coffee in a nice ceramic cup. Look around you, take a deep breath, enjoy your coffee, and then continue on your day!