It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world – Chaos Theory
We don’t often think of coffee and butterflies simultaneously, but for this month’s sustainability challenge, let’s make small shifts in thinking and small changes in actions – like thinking twice about the use of disposable cups. Tiny changes you make do make a difference. If millions of people make those tiny changes, the butterfly effect will help us reverse the environmental damage we have created, and we will have a cleaner healthier planet for our children and grandchildren.
Drink your morning cup of tea or coffee as if it were the first time in your life. Enjoy the smell of the roasted coffee being ground or the fresh-mown hay smell of the tea. Hold your cup, your favorite cup, the one that is made of clay, the one with the broken handle that allows you to warm your whole hand when you hold it, the one that says “World’s Best Dad”, the clear glass cup, the high-tech one, or the dainty grandmother cup on the daisy plate. Sit down and sip, slowly, aware of the beautiful event that this is, every morning and every day.
And if you must travel with your coffee enjoy that too, but use a travel mug instead of disposable. The use of these disposable cups creates a typhoon of environmental consequences. Billions of cups are tossed annually. And let’s see what it takes to make cups: Millions of trees, billions of gallons of water and the energy to power 50 to 100 thousand homes. Every four paper cups equals one pound of CO2 emissions. The number estimates vary between data sources, but we can agree the numbers are staggering. And coffee cups are hard to recycle, because they are often coated in plastic resin.
It might seem far away but choosing to enjoy your coffee in a reusable cup will keep the fluttering wings of beautiful, rare and pollinator butterflies in the coffee forests alive and well.
Monica Bongue-Bartlesman, Ph.D.
P.S. If you missed our last two challenges, you can still participate and it’s easy to catch up! In January, we challenged our supporters to think about food waste. In February, we focused on using reusable bags while shopping.