Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One Worker's Battle to Turn Borders Green

Got this comment in response to my complaints about Seattle's Best Coffee's reusable mug aversion and thought it deserved its own post:
I work in Rockford, IL at Borders. I was originally a cashier, and about eight months ago I transferred to the cafe. We serve Seattle's Best Coffee and constantly promote the use of our ceramic mugs. Common regulars always use them, but it is difficult persuading new customers. I've noticed that when we remind them mugs keep the coffee much warmer people are more willing to use them. There's also a trend factor involved. If several people are using mugs, several more will inquire about them.

Our entire store (cafe AND bookstore) only recycles cardboard. It's really a sad, sad thing. We have bins for paper, and when I asked about the recycling I was told "we just don't do that." Keep in mind that this is not a matter of personal choice, I'm sure our employees would be willing to jump on the green bandwagon.

We do offer a whole ten cent discount if you bring a travel mug in, and never advertise it. I worked for several months before I even heard of the offer. I know the discount is better than nothing at all, yet cannot shake the fact that the sales tax on a cup of coffee is slightly double that! A ten cent discount is hardly effective and therefore motivates no one.

I can speak on behalf of the cafe and the eight baristas. We are attempting to become a green cafe and have taken matters into our own hands, mine particularly. No one knows how to organize a recycling program, and we're also clueless as to how we can make this an easy task.

As of right now, we've attempted to do this for one week and even the baristas who opposed it are caving in and helping. The downfall of all this is that I, alone, am trying to coordinate a way to transport all this material. I've spent the last three hours (which is how I came about this site) trying to find ONE drop-off recycling center that is open during the week. I've found two possible options, but still must contact them.

I've become more frustrated with each minute - not so much at the fact that a city of 150,000 won't mandate recycling - or that a simple option of printing a receipt on our registers would save the majority of our paper waste - or that the websites I've come across are vague.

I should have a defeated attitude, but I'm stubbornly motivated to succeed. I feel as though I have one option and that is to make a fuss over this. I think that's the only way anything is going to come about and hopefully I won't lose my job in the process.
It's hard being the first to do anything. Even The Green Miles has found something as simple as switching to reusables to be often demoralizing.

But your reward is knowing that you've blazed a trail. In fact, a study just this week showed your role modeling of positive behavior can have a ripple effect through your social network and beyond.

Keep fighting the good fight!
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