Today is Earth Day and Starbucks is giving free drip coffee or tea to folks who bring their own reusable mugs, so I hopped on my little red bike with my reusable mug and rode over to Starbucks. Now you can say this is a cynical ploy on the part of Starbucks to sell pumpkin bread & donuts & reusable mugs and other stuff while greenwashing their image or you can view it as a little bit that maybe makes a little bit of difference. I'm honestly not sure which is true. All I know is I'm drinking their coffee & eating their pumpkin bread as I type this.
There are certainly people who are far better environmental stewards of the planet than I am and I'm also sure there are some that are making a far greater impact, for good or ill, than I will. Does my riding a bike instead of driving make a difference? A bit. Does my drinking from a reusable mug (that I don't remember to take every day) make a difference? Maybe another bit.
Often, when I look at my reusable mug, I think of Aaron Goss. A lot of words can and have been used to describe Aaron and one of the more printable ones is "intense". You don't have to be around Aaron very long to know what he thinks. I first met Aaron and wound up working with him back when we both got involved with the opening of the Seattle Bike Station (now the Seattle Bike Port). In one of our early (perhaps first) conversations Aaron spotted a disposable coffee cup in my hand. "Man, don't you care about the planet?" he asked very loudly and pointedly. I soon learned this was kind of Aaron's signature style. God help the customer who comes into his shop and says something like "I'm looking for a bike rack for the back of my Ford Excursion."
Aaron and I agree on many things and one of the things we wound up agreeing on after a short time was that we shouldn't be working together. We may have similar goals, but our paths are quite different. I tend to believe that helping the Excursion owner get a rack is a better approach than berating their vehicle choice.
While I like to think my approach to advocacy is effective, I have to grant that Aaron does make an impact. Looking back at it, I think Aaron was the catalyst that led me to reusable mug ownership. And there are times when a little rant just feels great.
A few years ago, I was at the Seattle Bike Swap. This is one of the premier events for bike nerds in Seattle. Everybody was there with old frames and parts and boxes of stuff. We'd orbit around, seeing what everybody had and catch up with old friends. As I'm walking past the crowded tables, I see a familiar face. But something is wrong, very wrong. "Aaron," I yell very loudly, "what the hell are you doing?" Aaron Goss is there, drinking coffee from a disposable cup. Everybody stares at me like I'm insane and then looks at Aaron. I continue "Don't you care about the planet?" "I...I...I forgot my cup," Aaron explains, looking at the paper cup with shame. I keep the rant up for a few more seconds, "you can't remember a cup to save the planet..." and then we both wind up laughing.
Does one mug or one bike ride make a difference to the planet? Well, we are all connected so everything does make a difference. Do what you can to keep things rolling,
Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA