There are many things I have slowly given up over time. Diet Coke. Peanut M&Ms. High fructose corn syrup. Some have been easy to let go of, and others, well, others can haunt me and rear their ugly little addicting heads. It is still hard not to want an icy Diet Coke at the movie theater, and I will be honest: I haven’t completely kicked the M&Ms. A bowl of the colorful happiness at a party will find my hand. However, I no longer purchase these items for personal consumption.
I digress. This story was to be about my current fascination with Iced Black Tea from Starbucks and my reuse of their trenta-sized cup. I believe reuse is the best of “The Three R’s” – reduce, reuse and recycle. If you are already reducing your usage, then reusing what you do have before recycling it is the pinnacle, for me anyway.
My husband and I have been recycling in our home for over 20 years. When we bought our first “home”, our loft downtown, one of the first things we designed into the kitchen was our recycling center. I have written previous blogs about our recycling commitment at home, my business has a full page on our website dedicated to our Green Policies, and – again last week – my husband and I drove our recycling through seven states to be able to get it into the correct bin. I like to think our fervor makes us committed to the cause, not crazy. Fine line, I suppose.
My new love – addiction, if you must – of iced black tea is probably the caffeine. I have never been a coffee drinker, but I did consume gallons of Diet Coke for years and years. It propelled me through my career in politics and pushed me right into entrepreneurship with my sister.
A year ago, I felt like I needed a little something to jump start my day again, with Diet Coke now 10 years behind me. At first I thought it was mental – this is my response to most things bordering on addiction – and that I needed to ignore it and move along. And I did just that for years. I have always had a lifelong love of iced water – and continue to drink major amounts of it daily – but it just seemed like my taste buds and my energy system wanted more.
But how do I balance my desire to save Mother Earth by consuming less while ordering iced teas in plastic cups? Even the little #6 in the cutie triangle telling me the cup was recyclable didn’t make my use of it justified. I need to use less plastic everyday. Every. Single. Day.
Then I found out I could re-use my cup at Starbucks – and they will give you money off for doing so! – and that changed everything. I am currently reusing a cup I got four weeks ago. My promise to Starbucks and my local barista is that I will not let the cup get junky looking or stained. I rinse it constantly and wash it occasionally, and I am still reusing the original lid and straw. (I even put my own iced tea from home in it when time is of the essence.)
I have managed to find a way to manage my current addiction with my desire to be one of the people to slowly change the world.
It took me a while. But I got there.
p.s. When ordering iced black tea in the South – let’s say on vacation driving through Florida, Georgia and Tennessee – be prepared to answer the question, “Do you want it sweetened?” more than once. They really, really love their sweet tea and looked at me like the Yankee I am when my answer was repeatedly, “No thank you.”
p.s.s. You can only reuse your cup if you go to a counter at Starbucks. My advice: don’t attempt this move when they are super-swamped. I am not a “rush hour” tea drinker, so this has worked out for me really, really well.