Zarfs

Do you believe in conservation?  Do you want to save our planet?  Of course you do.  Think about small steps.  A “zarf” is one of those coffee cup sleeves that baristas slide up the cup to keep your pinkies from getting too hot. Every “take out” coffee cup has a zarf. Heaven help the coffee shop that doesn’t use one. Plaintiff’s lawyers will crawl out of their holes to sue. . . . .

Think of the “take out” coffee that is consumed.  And the zarfs, cups and tops that are bought, used and tossed. Into the trash. Think of all those trees. And the energy to produce millions (billions?) of zarfs.

Some years ago, I got a cup of coffee at Hannah’s Bretzel and carried it to my office. I finished and tossed the cup into the garbage.  I looked down.  And reached into the garbage, fished out the cup and slid off the zarf. And put it the bag I carry around. The next morning when I stopped for coffee, I pulled out my zarf and handed it to the chap behind the counter. He looked at it.   I said “I’m recycling the sleeve.” He smiled, went “ahhhh” and reused it. When I got up to my office and finished the coffee, I slid off the zarf and put it back in my bag.

Would you believe that zarfs can last for months? Three months translates to a hundred zarfs spared.  Reused.  I’m not sure if this makes any difference in the world but I’d bet if each of America’s 150 million coffee drinkers recycled one zarf once each month, the tree population — and the earth — would collectively breathe a sigh of relief.

Recycling

Every day I have lunch. Sometimes I go to a restaurant but most days I grab a sandwich, soup or salad and bring it back to my office.

Everywhere I go, a carefully-wrapped sandwich is placed into a larger bag.  A salad is placed in a large bag.  And a small container of pasta or tuna salad is placed into a large bag. Bags bags bags bags. As soon as I get to my office I would crumple the “bag” and toss it out.   A brand new and perfectly serviceable bag goes deep six into the garbage within minutes.

I see some folks in these places take their sandwich bag from the counter, walk 10 feet, take out their wrapped sandwich and sit down in the seating area.  And pitch the bag into the garbage. 

I considered the waste incurred in this avalanche of paper that — usually within minutes (often seconds) — gets tossed out.   So for years, I bring the same dog-eared bags back to my lunch joints (I have a collection of bags in my office).  And reuse them.  Just think if everyone reused bags (lunch, shopping or whatever).  I would wager that in one day of saved bags, a lot of trees would be much happier . . . . and the environment a wee bit cleaner.   You can also save coffee sleeves (see 10/29/15), note pads (see 7/20/17), water and energy (see “Just Turn it Off” – 7/26/11).  

I figure I’ve saved a tree.  Or two.  And a few gallons of water.  Every little bit helps.  Or hurts.  Do it for your grandchildren.    You can do this!   

Legal Pads

I’m a lawyer. I do a lot of scribbling on paper. Notes. Phone numbers. Client comments. Problems. Flow charts. Ideas. Cartoons.  And so on. When I’m done and no longer need my scribbles, I toss out the sheet and have a fresh, blank page staring at me.  What’s interesting is that I haven’t used a yellow or white lined legal pad in years (unless I happen to be in a meeting).

I have a printer outside my office.  It sometimes spits out more than is needed.  Rather than pitch the nearly-blank pages, I save them.  Turn them over and clip ’em together.  And use them as a “legal pad.”  I figure that over the years, I’ve saved a tree or two.   Just from using paper that’s blank on one side with some words on the other.  

I feel pretty strongly about conservation.  And recycling.  My trademark JUST TURN IT OFF® says it all (see post of July 23, 2011).  Why can’t we all conserve water, energy and clean air (see May 21, 2012); stretch products like shampoo (see April 11, 2013); reuse “zarfs” (see October 29, 2015); reuse bags (see August 6, 2012).  Each one of us has potential to make a big difference in the world.  Just think if everyone . . . . . . 

It’s the little details that are vital.  Little things make big things happen.”   — John Wooden 

Zarfs

A “zarf” is one of those coffee cup sleeves that they slide up the cup to keep your pinkies from getting too hot. Every take out coffee cup has a zarf. Heaven help the coffee shop that doesn’t use one. Plaintiff’s lawyers would crawl out of their holes to sue. . . . .

Think of the coffee consumed and the zarfs, cups and tops that are bought, used and tossed. Into the trash. Think of all those trees. All the energy to produce millions (billions?) of zarfs.

Some months ago, I got a cup of coffee at Hannah’s Bretzel and carried it to my office. I finished and tossed the cup into the garbage.  I looked down.  And reached into the garbage, fished out the cup and slid off the zarf. And put it the bag I carry around. The next morning when I stopped for coffee, I pulled out my zarf and handed it to the chap behind the counter. He looked at it.   I said “I’m recycling the sleeve.” He smiled, went “ahhhh” and reused it. When I got up to my office and finished the coffee, I slid off the zarf and put it in my bag.

Would you believe that zarf has now lasted me about 6 weeks? That’s roughly 20 zarfs spared.  Saved.  I’m not sure if this makes any difference in the world but I’d bet if each of America’s 150 million coffee drinkers recycled one zarf once each month, the tree population would breathe a sigh of relief.

Cutting down on Waste

My posts occasionally reference the environment — and conservation.  Here’s another. . . .

Every day I go out for lunch. Sometimes I go to a restaurant but most days I go to a sandwich or salad shop and bring something back to my office.

Everywhere I go, a carefully-wrapped sandwich is placed into a larger bag.  A salad is placed in a large bag.  And a small container of pasta or tuna salad is placed into a large bag. Bags bags bags bags. As soon as I get to my office I crumple the “bag” and toss it out.   A brand new and perfectly serviceable bag goes deep sixing into the garbage within minutes.

Many customers in the restaurants I visit take their sandwich “bag” from the counter, walk 10 feet, take out their wrapped sandwich and sit down in the seating area.  And the bag goes into the garbage. 

I started thinking about the waste incurred in this avalanche of paper that — usually within minutes (often seconds) — gets tossed out.   I would wager that most people are smart enough – and dextrous enough – to carry a wrapped 10 ounce sandwich a few feet.  How about suggesting to food purveyors to offer a bag if needed?   I would wager that in one day of saved bags, a lot of trees would be much happier . . . . and the environment just a wee bit cleaner.    Or – you can do this on your own.   Like I do.  You may want to pass this one along.   Every little bit helps.  Or hurts. 

And Speaking of Conservation

I go to a fitness center two or three times a week.  In the locker room, I see guys standing at the sinks.  Shaving.  They leave the water running full blast.   And they talk to friends.  Shave.  Talk.  An occasional rinse of the razor.  And the water runs.  Good, clean, fresh water.  Full blast.   Down the drain.  

In my post of July 26, 2011, I spoke of my registered trademark — JUST TURN IT OFF.  A trademark I have used in connection with small efforts in the direction of energy and water conservation.   It is something everyone can do.  Easily.  Shaving?  Turn the water on – and off – as needed.  It’s a small thing but it counts.   Shower?  Turn it on, get wet.  And turn it off while you soap down (I think I actually get “cleaner” this way).  Then rinse.  Going from room to room?  Turn off unneeded lights and energy.    Waiting in your car?  Turn off the engine. 

It doesn’t sound like much but just think if everyone saved one gallon of water a day.  That’s 300,000,000 plus gallons of clean, fresh water.   Save a quart?  That’s still 75,000,000 gallons a day.   Our children and grandchildren may need that water down the road.  I – like you – want it to be there. 

Try it.  Just turn it off. . . . .

Conservation

My great friend Antonio, who lives in Monterrey, Mexico (see post of March 12, 2012), and I were communing about how conservation worked when we were young (he is a few years younger than me).  It was pretty simple.  

Bottles were returned for a deposit – then reused.  Clothes were dried on a line – by solar and wind power.  Not 220 volt dryers.  Diapers were washed and reused.  We had one television in the house with a screen the size of a placemat.  There were no “stadium sized” t.v.’s.  Our moms used an egg beater (there was no blender).  And when we shipped Christmas presents, our parents crumpled newspaper for packing.  There were no plastic “peanuts” or bubble wrap.  We cut the grass with a hand mower.    Wardrobes were pretty modest.  No “new models” except hand-me-downs.   There were no plastic water bottles (which today are made, used in a minute and thrown out by the trillions).  There was one water glass by the kitchen and bathroom sinks — that everyone used.   Rinse to clean – drink.   And stores and businesses had water fountains.  Thirsty?  Use the water fountain.   And dad changed razor blades in his Schick razor.  Nothing disposable. . . .  

Have we become lazy and complacent?  You tell me.   We hear the political trumpets sounding about saving the environment and how we must look forward and not back.  But I do think that looking backward – at least in some areas – could sure provide a lesson for looking ahead.