I was talking with some friends of mine the other day about oil spills, and eventually the conversation moved into things like smog, pollution, garbage, and so on. All of us had concerns about the state of the planet, however, few of us were exactly sure what they could do to help — especially in an uncertain economy.
“I know I should do things like insulate more and upgrade my furnace and so on,” said one, “but that’s expensive even with the tax credits and we’re on a tight budget. What else is there?”
Leaving aside the math involved in how much you save with energy retrofits, there are a number of little — and inexpensive — things you can do to make a big difference. I’m going to list 1001 of them in fact, starting with this one:
1. Coffee cups
Let’s start with that morning cup of coffee. Like a lot of people, I need a cuppa joe to get going in the morning, and sometimes it’s not always convenient to brew it up at home. Either I’m running late, or there’s only me drinking it and it doesn’t make sense to brew a pot for one cup. (Plus, who wants to get halfway to work and think: Did I leave that coffee pot on?)
Coffee shops on every corner make it easy to grab a cup en route. The problem is what to do with that paper cup afterward. The city of Toronto, I’m told, goes through something like one million cups per day. That’s a lot of trash.
The solution is simple — get a travel mug. If you can’t score one for free (lots of companies give them away as promotional items), they’re inexpensive (anywhere from $5–$20), and many coffee chains — like Tim Horton’s — actually knock down the price of your coffee if you present one for a fill-up. Invest in a good, stainless steel/insulated one, and you’ll find they’re easy to clean and keep your coffee warmer longer.