Every month the church orders a case of 1,000 Styrofoam cups and stir sticks. Each case costs a little more than $22.00. A case of 1,000 cup lids costs a little more than $17.00.
We encourage the use of lids, though most people don't take one. Spills are common, especially among the children getting their cocoa. This means we have to have Dave Ross out frequently to clean the carpets, particularly in the Java Junction area, and down the halls immediately adjacent to it.
Ultimately, the cups, stirrers, and lids wind up in the wastebaskets, which are lined with plastic garbage bags. Our custodian, Jun, gathers them, as does the set-up person that does the Saturday night walk-through. We don't have a weekend custodian, so if there is an event on Saturday, the wastebaskets can sometimes be overloaded with trash- mostly cups.
All of that goes out to the dumpster. Recently, there was some discussion about having yet another weekly pickup added to our hauling contract, since we have frequent over-flows. However, we haven't done that yet. From there, the hauler takes all our trash to the landfill, which is 40 miles away in Vermillion County, burning diesel all the way. Why does it have to go so far? Because when our county landfill was declared full in 1990, we couldn't build another site any closer, without the risk of groundwater contamination. It's east-central Illinois; the water table reflects the fact that this was all a tallgrass swamp at one time. Thus the trip to Vermillion County.
Once there, it is entombed in perpetuity (we hope!) in a modern landfill arrangement that is designed to keep water out and garbage in. Nothing really rots away there; it's just buried. It actally never goes away. So, all our Styrofoam coffee cups, which wouldn't rot anyway, are all over there near Danville, awaiting the end of time.
Now, I have a suggestion:
What if everyone who regularly attends our church started bringing their travel mug in with them on Sunday morning, or even for meetings? I'll bet nearly everyone has one. In fact, I'll bet a lot of the cars in the parking lot have one sitting in the cup-holder on a regular basis, so it would just be a matter of bringing it in when you come in the building. If we all started doing this we could buy fewer cups, lids, and stirrers; produce less trash; keep the carpets cleaner (since travel mugs usually have lids), and extend the life of the landfill. So, we save the church a fair little chunk of money each month, save ourselves some tax dollars that go to landfill maintenance, as well as act as good stewards of our environment. At home, I call this "well, duh!" environmentalism, because it's an easy, cost-free change that saves money. It's a no-brainer!
If you're with me on this, leave a quick comment. Who's in?