Free Coffee! Free Tea!
The humble hand-painted paper sign shouts out to passing students as they walk to the hub of the university campus, the location of the library and yummy food merchants.
A salvaged green plastic sheet covers a table borrowed from the bookshop and behind the display to the left a kettle boils in the shadows.
On top of the table is a plethora of coffee and teas. All varieties I could find at my local supermarket. Sugar, cow milk and soy milk are also available.
A student warily walks up to the display.
“What’s the catch?” he says, knowing too well many stalls at Latrobe University have a petition to sign or a cause needing a donation.
“No catch.” I say. “All free.”
The student brightens and says, “I will have a cup of coffee then.”
“Help yourself.” I say, a little smugly.
The young man begins to search about the table, then says “Where are the cups?”
“Oh, you have to bring your own reusable cup.” I answer. “This stall doesn’t offer free cups.”
He looks a little confused now, perhaps he thinks I am playing a joke on him. So I continue with the conversation.
I then tell him the stall is to encourage student bring their own reusable cup into university. I then talk about how paper coffee cups are actually non-recyclable as they have a plastic wax coating inside of them.
He is still interested, so I tell him the coffee lids take 400+ years to degrade. And then I show him the photos of all the damage that is being done to sea-life due to disposable plastic trash. (You can see the pictures to the right of this blog under the title The Cost of Convenience.)
“Five minutes of convenience with a throw away cup is 400 years of inconvenience to future generations.” : is usually how I finish my small lecture. It is perhaps the most important part of the lesson.
Bring-A-Cup Cafe has been an immense success at my University. I have not had a single negative reaction, in fact the feedback has been so positive, students want this cafe to run every day in the second semester. More and more students are making the effort to bring reusable cups to Latrobe University and the response from the real on-campus Cafe’s have been very supportive.
Seems I am in for a busy 2nd semester. If I am going to run this project 5 days a week, I guess I could set up my laptop behind the stall somehow and study when it is quiet. 🙂
Perhaps you may like to try this stall at your university? Please, I insist you try. 😉
Loxley Smithett earthknight.org