The 5 Rs
You Can Use
The "5Rs" are an exploration of the themes Respect, Rethink,
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. These Earth-loving actions allow us to reduce
our impact on our Earth and add deeper meaning and joy to our lives.
Send us yours - firstname.lastname@example.org!
- Peet's Plant Reduces Paper Cup Use
- To-Go Ware Poem by Stephanie Berstein
Peet's Plant Reduces Paper Cup Use by 156,000 Paper Cups a Year!
Here’s a letter that came to us from Peet’s Coffee
& Tea offices in Emeryville, California. This letter is a great
example of a local environmental victory organized by a few people with
a vision, a plan, a little information on the power of waste reduction.
We hope it inspires you to make the switch and to help organize a switch
in groups that you belong to.
by Gail Greenlees
September 11, 2003
Circle of Life
PO Box 3764
Oakland, CA 94609
Subject: Permanent Cup at Peet’s Plant Replaces 156,000 Paper
Cups a Year!
Circle of Life,
Thank you for your research on how the use of a permanent cup in place
of 1,000 paper cups would impact the Earth. We had an occasion to use
this information recently when we rolled out permanent cups for 200
employees at Peet's Coffee & Tea's roasting plant and offices in
These permanent drinking containers (plastic tumblers) replaced 3,000
large (16 oz.) paper cups a week... 156,000 a year. The trashcans were
always overflowing with used cups to be sent off to our local landfill.
This bothered a lot of us at the plant. Others said permanent cups would
never work there. It was our CEO Pat O'Dea's decision to try permanent
cups that gave this project the go ahead.
The switch would be tricky and a lot of prep work would be needed to
make it work. Let me explain why. Years ago plastic tumblers were given
to each plant employee... but without any communication about the reason
for doing so... so people took their free gift home. We knew it would
not be difficult for the office people to make the switch and keep their
cup at their desk. It was the plant people that we were concerned about.
No food or drinks are allowed out there. Water stations provide water
when they are thirsty. But on their three breaks, they usually come
into the coffee-tea room and the lunchroom. Also, we have a number of
plant employees who speak English as a second language, and some speak
very little. Written instructions wouldn't work with them... we would
need to demonstrate.
Here's how our Environmental Committee tackled this permanent cup switch:
TUMBLERS-- We had personalized plastic tumblers (ones we sell at our
stores) made up for 200 employees. Each one would have an employee's
name on it.
SHELVING IN THE LUNCHROOM-- One of our employees made storage shelves
in the lunchroom for the plant employees' tumblers.
COMMUNICATION-- We knew we had to be absolutely clear what the tumblers
were for... to replace the paper cups at work. So we made sure people
were prepared ahead of time and understood why and what was to happen.
- SIGNS went up ahead of time... 'COMING SOON... PERMANENT MUGS AT
PEET'S '... showing a photo of an overflowing trash can filled with
paper cups and an arrow pointing to the colorful permanent tumbler
that would take the place of the paper ones. 0n the sign we put the
number of paper cups we had been using (3,000 a week, 156,000 a year),
and we used your research of "solid waste is reduced by 86% when
you use a permanent mug in place of 1,000 disposable paper cups."
(This research was done by the Circle of Life Foundation.) We did
this so they would understand the environmental savings that would
occur with this switch.
- CUP GUIDELINE INSERTS had 1/2-page instructions on using, cleaning,
and storing the cups inserted into every tumbler.
- TUMBLER PRESENTATION AT EXECS' MEETING where two of our committee
members explained this project to the execs. They were told about
the environmental purpose of waste reduction, the cost of the permanent
cups versus the cost of paper cups used, and your research numbers.
They were given their personalized tumblers and given specific verbal
and written instructions to use when they met with their department
- DEPARTMENT MANAGERS AND STAFF got instructions (verbal and written)
from the execs and they in turn met with their department staff. At
this level the instructions were very succinct and very clear. The
waste reduction reason was explained, and then... "No paper cups
will be available beginning Aug. 25. This tumbler or other permanent
mug must be used." Staff tumblers were handed out by the department
managers on August 22.
- PLANT MANAGER took employees into the lunchroom where their tumblers
were stored on the shelving. He handed them out and made sure everyone
understood that they were to be used at work and returned clean to
the storage shelf.
TUMBLER ROLLOUT--On August 25, 2003 At 8 a.m. we had bagels, schmears,
and orange juice waiting for all the employees with signs THANKING THEM
for switching from paper cups to permanent cups. On the SIGN... we included
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE and we included the research you had done:
- ENERGY USE is reduced by 98%.
- WATER POLLUTION is reduced by 99%.
- AIR PARTICULATES are reduces by 86%.
- GREENHOUSE GASES are reduced by 29%.
- SOLID WASTE is reduced by 86%.
So all the effort put in by our Environmental Committee and everybody
else paid off. I tell you all this in detail because what may seem like
a simple thing when you are one person making a switch... is a different
story when you have 200 people, and those 200 are used to doing it the
easy way. Now they have to make a little effort for the environment,
and it's worth it.
- Gail Greenlees