Las Vegas, Nevada

No, I am not talking about the conspicuous features of the silicon beauties on the Las Vegas Strip – but rather the blight of Disposable Cups.

I am in Las Vegas for the EMC2 conference, at the invitation of my title sponsors Brocade. Today when I went to a coffee shop in search of my morning caffeine hit, I did as I usually do and presented the barista with my trusty metal mug, and asked that it be filled with my beverage of choice.

“Sorry, we can’t. Hygiene regulations.”

“What?”

“Casinos in Nevada. We can’t put your drink in your mug. Germs.”

“They’re MY germs. I’m quite happy with them, really.”

“We can put your drink in one of our plastic cups, and then you can pour it into your mug.”

“But the whole point is not that I want to drink out my mug, but that I want to avoid using a disposable cup.”

“Sorry.”

Impasse.

I apologized to the barista for taking it out on her, when clearly she was only obeying the law. I considered not having a coffee, which would probably have been the best solution for my health as well as for the environment, but instead decided to use my caffeine-induced surge of energy to build up a fine head of steam, and then use my righteous indignation to generate some action.

I have consulted with David Helvarg of Blue Frontier Campaign, and we are looking at launching an online petition to create incentives for people to use reusable mugs rather than disposable cups – possibly a charge or a tax on disposables.

It appalls me when I see the number of plastic, paper and styrofoam cups leaving from coffee shops, and I imagine those quantities multiplied up across all the thousands of Starbucks and other coffee shops across the world, every day of the year. That is an awful lot of landfill.

Now that the anti-plastic-bag movement is gathering momentum, it’s time to move on to the next target…

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