To Go


One of my guilty pleasures is to buy hot coffee or iced tea out in the world. A dog walk is an opportunity to go by a café. Errand running, another chance to just stop by Dunkin’ Donuts. Waking up in the morning: a chance to figure out where and when I will be forced to buy a caffeinated drink.

What really makes me feel guilty about it is the paper and plastic waste I am generating. The paper cup, the plastic lid, the cardboard sleeve I take, the plastic cup, the straw…. It’s all bad, even if it goes in the recycling after spending some time on the floor of my car.

I hate buying a thing to solve a problem. For awhile I pretended to myself that I would cut this habit and make most of my coffee and tea at home. But I am addicted to the experience of someone else making it and of carrying it around in an adult’s sippy cup.

I started looking at reusable containers. The huge plastic cold drink containers at Dunkin’s seemed even more environmentally egregious and are just plain ugly. The reusable coffee mugs have annoying (to me) handles and are either made of plastic or have a dark cavernous inside that would never get cleaned. The ceramic cup with silicon lids are gorgeous but a.) bound to get broken and b.) isn’t silicon a bad-mining thing?

When I stopped looking, I found Kleen Kanteen’s steel pint at the grocery store, lid sold separately. The steel conveys that industrial chic while camping thing. The lid contains a small amount of silicon and of course hard plastic. The entire thing is “responsibly sourced” which means, at least, somebody thought about whether it created emissions or eroded mountain gorilla habitat or some other bad something.

For me, I think it will last a long time, I’ll like it which means I’ll remember to use it, and it won’t get too gross (which goes back to liking it enough that I’ll remember to use it.)

It was expensive. Ten dollars for the cup and seven for the lid (as if you would buy a sippy cup without a lid).

The guy who rang me up was Somali. He looked at it and said, “This is cool. We had these for our cups at home in Somalia. Just this kind of steel cup.”

I said, “I bet they didn’t cost $10.”

“No,” he said. “For ten dollars you could do anything, go anywhere you wanted.”

We laughed about that. Then I bought it anyway.