Trying to Do My Part to Save the Environment

For many reasons I’ve decided that it’s time to take more seriously the concept of reducing single use plastic and start taking some baby steps in that direction. I’ve made a few changes like switching to shampoo bars, and laundry detergent strips, and dryer balls, and mesh produce bags. They all work great. The biggest challenge is how to enjoy the take-out cold drinks without using one of the single use plastic cups.

In the summer, we always enjoy the frothy cold coffee and fruity concoctions at Tim Horton’s, but they all need to be made in the  “sterile” plastic cups because they’re mixed by a sterile machine, or so I was told. So I gave up my Cappuccinos for Iced Coffee and started taking my own reusable cup with me. The coffee is poured into my cup, a squirt of flavor is added, followed by a scoop of ice cubes. No cross contamination right? Well, a few service people tried to say they couldn’t do it because their hand stirrer could not go into my cup. Then someone told them, just use a plastic straw to stir it. That was fine until I got stainless steel straws and began taking one with me. “Don’t worry about stirring it,” I’d say. “I’ll do it myself.” Everyone was happy.


Then we ventured away from the franchises that had become familiar with me. Too often, even though the service person would agree to make my coffee in my own cup, I’d catch them making it in their plastic one and then pouring it into mine. I again explained why that was unacceptable and how it could be remedied. Obviously they had no concept of why I was doing this and some got quite defensive with me.

One time, I went onto the Tim Horton’s website and sent a message of complaint, about that policy, and their need to reduce their garbage better recycling. The next day I got a lovely boilerplate reply telling me how they are reducing waste with their recycling bins.

Things were going smoothly until a week or so later. We were at a Tim Horton’s in the Brookdale Plaza in Peterborough. I asked for an iced coffee to be made in my cup and, “don’t worry about stirring it. I’ll do it myself with my own straw.”

Her reply? “I can’t make it in your cup, but I can pour it into there once it’s made.”

I tried to explain nicely to her that it can be done without violating any health codes, but she wouldn’t even listen.

“I’m not allowed to do that! I’ve been working here for four years and I’ve never done that!”

Jim asked to speak to the manager. She claimed she was busy serving the drive-through. “You can call the owners if you want,” she yelled from the other end of the counter. “Or you can call Head Office. They’ll tell you it’s not allowed. Peterborough Health Unit won’t allow it.”

Again I tried to explain that there would be no cross contamination, that it wouldn’t be any different than refilling a hot coffee mug. But she would have none of it. She even said something about she couldn’t touch my cup.

I eventually got Jim to walk away and we went to MacDonald’s, where, after I explained what I wanted and how to do it, the manager said, “I can do that.”

The next time we were in our own local Tim Horton’s and the owner/manager cheerfully accepted my cup for refill, I told him about my Peterborough experience. He was surprised. He told me that he’d worked for the Head Office for several years, setting up franchises across the country, before deciding to become an owner, and that that woman was totally wrong. He said several people now take in their own cups or mugs just as I do.

Have you taken steps to try to reduce your footprint on the environment? If so, what has been your experience?




10 thoughts on “Trying to Do My Part to Save the Environment

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences Judy. We all have to try and do our bit, and you are certainly doing yours. I heard someone on the radio yesterday saying that if she doesn’t remember to bring her cup with her she will do without her coffee/tea/cold drink, etc. We should all take that attitude and just keep a couple of reuseable cups with us. I save paper bags used by some stores and use them for produce. We buy liquid soap and shampoo in bulk and refill containers in the bathroom so we’re not buying individual bottles. I have a specialty shampoo that I need to use once a week. I should ask the supply company where I buy it if it is available in bulk for refilling my bottle. Bulk barn and other stores will let you bring in clean, dry containers to put items in so you don’t need to fill the single-use plastic bags. I just have to remember to bring them with me! Napanee has a very good recycling program and the company has found markets for many different items. We only put out garbage once a month or so, and we have to pay for the privilege–$2 per bag tag. These are small steps but every little bit helps. At least I hope so.
    It’s been a while since I posted on my blog. I have a bunch of stuff in my head, but nothing’s gelled. I’m inspired to do some more writing, and I’m catching up with your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was wondering if the weather is bad back there. I’ve been catching up on reading blog posts, and doing some long over-due writing because it has been raining here for three days! Always a silver lining.:) At home we have a great recycling program that is expanding, but here they claim there isn’t a market for the recycling items anymore. Do I have the energy to go back to making everything from scratch again — bread, pasta sauce, ketchup, cereal, salad dressings? Probably not, but what is the alternative if the packaging can’t be recycled?

      I really like the laundry strips and bar shampoo with conditioner, which leaves our hair feeling cleaner and our scalp less dry. I use reusable mesh bags for produce and take our own shopping bags, which I know you do too. At home we have very little garbage as well.

      May we both retain the inspiration to write!


  2. Good for you Judy and Jim. Thank you. We too have been making an effort to reduce the use of plastic in any way we can. When we made a conscious effort to do so within the last year only then did we really become aware of just how much plastic there is out there. As daunting and overwhelming as that realization is for us we strive every day to eliminate plastic wherever we possibly can. One big step was to replace in house plastic wrap, freezer bags, and garbage bags with sturdy reusable, easily washable containers. The small extra effort involved has long been forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Derick. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s great to hear of more people becoming involved in reducing, since recycling just isn’t cutting it any more. I’m curious about what you do for garbage pick-up, since municipalities require it be in plastic bags?


  3. Interesting sequence of events to eventually get some consensus.
    I was curious about the laundry strips so went online to find more info. One can get a free sample, but then one is bound to get monthly mailings. The company makes it hard to cancel or alter the frequency. There are local outlets but none in Oakville. Demand will increase availability.

    I have very dry, itchy skin, so hopefully, this product will alleviate the condition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Helen. I original got my laundry strips from the website that I think you are referring to. I knew that I had to take the monthly membership, but I did find that I could cancel anytime. I forgot to do that until my second order arrived. Then I simply sent an email and it was cancelled. I was also told how to choose different plans. Then before we were getting ready to come to Arizona I realized I didn’t have enough to last for six months and it was too late to have them sent to our home in Ontario. To make a long story short, I found some in a Vancouver Canadian Tire, at a much better price than online. The brand name (the parent company of the online one) is DSolve. Try looking for that online and you might find a Canadian Tire Store near you that carries them,or maybe can order them for you.

      You might want to try bar shampoo and conditioner too. Dry, itchy, skin is a problem as we age. I use lots of moisturizer!


  4. Great post, Judy. I’ve been paying more attention lately to plastic-bottled toiletry items. But I never heard of shampoo bars or laundry strips – I’ll have to look for them. If we all do just a little more, we can turn the tide, then manufacturers and food providers will respond with better packaging and policies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Karen. It’s an uphill battle, but necessary. We just learned that here in Mesa, where we are for the winter, the recycling program has been greatly reduced, so our garbage will increase. Most of the things we all recycle, like paper boxes that things like cereal, pasta, tissues come in, are no longer accepted here. Neither are glass food jars, or any kind of plastic containers other than drink bottles. I’m so glad that I discovered the laundry strips and shampoo bars before we came here. I stocked up. I’m not sure where you would find them in the US. You can order the laundry strips online, but it’s a little complicated and more costly than the ones I found at a Canadian Tire Store when we were in Vancouver, BC before we left to home. The shampoo bars are easier to find. I got mine from our local bulk food store at home.

      Thanks for weighing in. It’s encouraging to hear of more people trying to make the effort.


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