Rich People are Killing the Earth

A few days ago, I was lurking in the Peet’s coffee in Lake Oswego. I was sitting on a bench very akin to an old wooden church pew right next to where some merchandise was for sale.

Two of my favorite things to do in coffee shops is to eavesdrop on any conversations within my range of hearing, and to take notes about general observations about the people around me.

I noted that a lot of attractive men work at Peet’s, and a lot of crispy fake-blonde women buy coffee there, in addition to the rich elderly population.

As I sat, looking, listening, writing, two older ladies came into the shop. Since there was a line they stood near me, looking at the products on the stand right beside me.

Just as I finished scribbling an observation, (“Fake-tanned men is possibly the most unattractive thing of all time,”) the womens’ conversation took an interesting turn and my ears perked up.

“Look at this!” Woman 1 exclaimed, “Why would you buy this?” She pulled a reusable coffee cozy from its tub, and tossed it back in like it was dirty.

“You wouldn’t,” replied Woman 2, “That’s the kind of thing you’d get as a gift that you’d never use again.”

For some reason they both found this very funny, and they laughed as they stepped up to place their orders. They took ages to order their nonfat lattes, and they got paper cups and sat in the shop for two hours. (Yeah, I was there for a long time.)

“It’s confirmed,” I wrote, referring to a suspicion I’ve long held, “Rich people are killing the planet.”

And the problem is not in the wealth itself. The problem lies with people like these elderly women with their flatironed hair and their country-club airs.

The problem isn’t wealth.

The problem is the attitude that everything is disposable.

I mean, that the Goodwill donation center in Lake Oswego reportedly takes in more inventory than any other donation center in the Northwest is telling enough. It’s not that giving to Goodwill is bad (not that I’m assuming it’s out of the goodness of anyone’s hearts since they can’t even seem to tip baristas well,) but this area is not highly populated.

People just get rid of a lot of crap and then buy a lot more.

I guess that we’re all guilty of this to a degree. Heck, the only reason I don’t revamp my wardrobe more often is because I don’t have the resources to do it.

But what if we all used and re-used things until they wore out beyond reasonable use?

We all know the three Rs– Reduce, Reuse, Recycle– but so often so much emphasis is put on the last one, while the most attention should be paid to the first.

If we reduced the amount of things we have, and then reuse those things beyond recognition, then recycling would hardly be an issue at all.

Imagine if everyone brought their own cups to coffee shops every time they got a drink? It would be AWESOME!

I’m not trying to be preachy because I certainly could cut a lot of waste out of my own life, and the only reason I’m not as wasteful as the women in Peet’s is because I don’t have the resources to be.

But what if we lived in a non-disposable society?

Something to think about.


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