LOVE COFFEE? WORK IN AN OFFICE? THEN READ THIS.
Hands up who has read Yuval Noah Harari’s blockbuster, Sapiens. It seems to come up in conversation quite regularly or is seen being read on public transport. Quite simply, the author smashes down the notions of organised society and reveals how we have got to where we are today. On the brink, it seems, of environmental oblivion. Climate change is real, and not a day goes by without the war on plastic being in the spotlight. In Harari’s words:
“Science made us deadly”.
Not least is this illustrated by the ability of mankind to solve problems and simultaneously create new ones – take the invention of plastic as an example:
We have disposable coffee cups (and lids) for our daily coffee to keep us awake and alert, plastic water bottles to keep us hydrated from the air conditioning in the office and plastic trays and bowls of all varieties to feed us during our lunch hour. All of these are single-use plastic and the vast majority ends up in landfills, incinerators or in our oceans. Some estimates suggest there will be more plastic in the oceans than actual fish by 2050. Quite frankly, it disgusts me.
My heart is torn every time someone buys a disposable coffee cup with their awful lids and I observe them casually being throw them away in the bin, without the slightest after thought. DON’T you realise what YOU are doing to the environment? These are not recyclable and have a half-life that vastly exceeds our average life expectancy: A simple moment of indulgent pleasure all in the name of convenience in return for polluting the environment for a life time. Is that the type of environment we wish to live in?
It is time that we all WAKE UP from the catastrophe that we are making when we go to work every day. Collectively we need to raise the level of our consciousness above the consumerist culture we have created, that Harari so effortlessly describes.
That consciousness can be raised by simple little efforts. Rainbo, a new Japanese food eatery at Broadgate, in the City of London, is now offering discounts to ‘Keep Cup’ holders thanks to my efforts (as described below).
I had to work a little harder at another local eatery in the same square but the end result was also rewarded. When I asked for my food to be offered in a recycled container, the counter assistant looked at me in a puzzled way, saying that:
“but we already have these single-use containers to use…?”
Once the dawn set in as to why I was requesting this, she made a special effort to accommodate my request. It even brought a smile to her face. Result.
Here are my top tips to being a true ‘eco-warrior’ in the work place. Whilst bringing in our own food and drink is the optimal choice, practically speaking, this isn’t always possible.
1. Get a ‘Keep Cup’.
Keep Cups have taken the UK market by storm as the name of the brand given to re-usable coffee cups. Places like Pret, Nero and others provide discounts for the use of Keep Cups, so not only are you saving the environment, but saving money too. You can even get portable collapsible ones now. Genius.
2. Use a Refillable Water Container
Where there are plastic water bottles, use aluminium or other stainless steel containers. Not only are they good for the environment, but good for your health. Time and again I see colleagues at work drinking from the same used water bottle. I shudder at the thought of all the micro-plastics floating around. My favourite brand is the Klean Kanteen brand, which are smart-looking, high performing and affordable.
3. Re-use the Plastic Cutlery & Containers
Don’t casually throw the cutlery and containers that are endlessly handed out with every convenience meal. Bring them back to the office, wash them and offer to re-use them where you can. As I showed earlier, you may encounter some resistance, but once you break through the resistance, and people see the real intention behind your efforts, you will be rewarded.
4. Avoid Plastic Containers
Avoid food outlets that offer salads and other meals in plastic trays or containers where it is not a simple matter of bringing them back to be re-used again, especially the black trays which are NOT recyclable. It’s that simple. I miss certain foods I used to eat regularly, but it’s worth the sacrifice. Every bit of it.
Large corporations generate wealth and employment for nations as a whole. In the UK alone, financial services contribute something like 11% of gross domestic product, last time I heard. But with that brings an enormous environmental cost.
However, if we can start to be more environmentally sensitive and conscious of the impact of what and how we eat and drink in the work place, then together we can slowly make a difference. Just ask all my colleagues around me at the bank right now. It may be a laughing matter, but when I do hassle, I’m being deadly serious.
“Pursue One Great Aim with Force & Determination”
Carl Von Clausewitz