“You and me and five bucks”

This is one of my favourite scenes in the 90s classic, Reality Bites. Troy (played by Eathan Hawke) and Lelaina (played by Winona Ryder) are walking aimlessly through the street, smoking cigarettes (it was the 90s) and talking about life—giant takeout cups of coffee in hand.

No other culture in the world seems to enjoy large volumes of coffee on the go like we do in North America. Whether we’re rushing to work, heading to the gym or strolling through the shops, there’s always time to grab a Vente or large Double Double.

According to Zero Waste Canada, 14 billion cups of coffee are consumed in Canada every year, and 35% of coffee is consumed “to go”.

But what is the consequence to our coffee behaviour? The City of Toronto doesn’t currently have a program to recycle these disposable cups in the blue bins leaving thousands of single use cups destined for the landfill. The UN University reminds us, “it is easy to imagine the environmental consequence of this decision — billions of cups, millions of trees and tons of greenhouse gases (estimates vary) every year,” but it’s not too late to change the way we think.

And other cultures seem to do it differently—others seem to be able to take an extra few minutes to enjoy their fresh brew from a proper (and significantly smaller) glass or ceramic cup. Italians always seemed to have time for their morning cappuccino, and in Turkey, afternoon coffee is always served with a piece of Turkish Delight (yes, that’s a thing).

So, what’s the lesson here? Can we change our behaviour? Do we encourage each other to buy and bring our reusable mugs, or do we just slow down and learn to take a coffee break?

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3 thoughts on ““You and me and five bucks”

  1. We do seem to be more thirsty than we ever were in the sixties and seventies, with the exception of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (opening scene). Another classic movie moment that documents the commercial rise of coffee and water: When Harry Met Sally. They’re trying out a new rug and Sally is holding a large bottle of Evian. I remember thinking, that’s strange to be holding such a big bottle. The point being, people need to see you holding the coffee or water, like a Birkin Bag. Then everyone fell into line: grocery stores were stocking it and women’s magazines were writing health stories on proper hydration, and water companies pushing H20 sourced from mountain springs were filling up down at the harbour. Coffee and water were/are must-have fashion items.

    1. It’s true—there did seem to be a shift and a large coffee or water on the go said something about the character and must-have accessories. Thanks for the idea for my next post! And side note—Breakfast at Tiffanies and When Harry Met Sally are two of my other favourite movies!

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