The Green Ranter

cups004One kind of interesting customer I often meet tends to feel so strongly about an issue they need to scream it across the counter or the planet is doomed.

At four o’clock in the afternoon we stop making coffee in ceramic and glass cups. The rule was put into place in order to take the stress off cleaning at the end of the day. When this type of customer comes in and asks for a ‘for here’ at about ten past four I have to refuse and kindly offer a takeaway cup instead.

Of course that’s never good enough and I am often subjected to a rant that smells strongly of patchouli. The customer leaves. However, within the month as the pressure of uni heightens and no coffee is worse than flooding the earth with mountains of paper cups, the same customer returns at the same time with a completely different agenda.

In this same situation I find they’ll opt for the disposable cup, abandoning all the amazing green fuelled statements I remember from our first meeting. Hypocrite or coffee nut, I’m still on the fence about that one.

My usual counter for this environmental dilemma focuses on the amount of water used in maintaining our ceramic and glass cups. It never persuades my activist friend, nor should it, I was wrong. Ceramic and glass cups actually require a lot more energy to manufacture as opposed to our biodegradable varieties.

A ceramic cup needs to be used thirty-nine times and a glass cup fifteen times in order to balance out the energy needed to produce just one of our paper cups. This energy expenditure includes the commercial dishwasher we use which requires 3.5 litres of water per cycle. The paper cups are not coated with polyethylene making it easier for our recycling company, Visy, to make the once loved cup reusable.

Transportation is also a factor as the ‘for heres’ are much heavier and therefore require a little more petrol to cart around. Nevertheless, our ‘for here’ cups are replaced once a year.

So which is better? If you are having a coffee in and use one of our cups you’re playing the green card, as we meet the energy breakpoint for our ceramic and glass cups in the span of a week, assuming they don’t end up on the floor in pieces. Perhaps it’s time to lengthen our protocol by half an hour, I’ll have the soy milk ready.

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5 Responses to “The Green Ranter”


  1. 1 Jim the Dag August 9, 2009 at 5:50 am

    Good Work! I didn’t know what patchouli was… but after the help of good old google it all made sense (some type of mint bush). When you think about it, it does kinda make sense that glass is more environmentally friendly… primarily because it can be reused so many times. Why do you replace the glasses once a year? Wouldn’t you only buy new ones to replaced the chipped/ broken ones?

    • 2 Meghan August 9, 2009 at 6:33 am

      On average the glasses and ceramics need to be replaced once a year, for the exact reasons you mentioned. I just wanted to slip that in there to show that because of the annual replacements there’s little energy used for transportation. In comparison to our paper cup delivery which is once a week, conatining at least four boxes full of cups.

  2. 3 Meaghan August 9, 2009 at 6:02 am

    You present some interesting stats. I must say that I always feel bad about using take away cups to the extent that I often pass up hot drinks when I’m out, but to be honest, I don’t have the patience and time to carry around a travel mug in my handbag and find a time and place to wash it! Perhaps I will give it a go in future.

  3. 4 Humphrey August 17, 2009 at 5:14 am

    Interesting… Of cause the biggest difference is taste! I haven’t quite worked out why, but coffee always tastes better in a nice ACF ceramic than in a takeaway cup. Maybe it’s the paper leaching into or something? Dunno… But good to see soon green reasoning 🙂

    Glad you found my blog useful! I’ve just subscribed to yours 🙂


  1. 1 Sensationalizing the Bean « For the Love of Beans! Trackback on September 14, 2009 at 11:43 am

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