Saturday, May 12, 2012


I work in an office where all of our gustatory need and wants are not lacking.  The pantries are filled with all types of snacks and ready to eat meals.  The refrigerator is stocked with soft drinks, juices, milk, yogurts, etc.  We have an ice machine that makes perfect cubes of crystal clear ice and an espresso machine that can rival that of any coffee bar in the area.  In addition to these gastronomical delights, we have dishwasher that cleans the plates, cups and other associated utensils that are used to consume the food contents of the kitchen.  (Are you really going to eat that Snickers bar with you hands?). 

At the beginning, in order to reduce waste and be ecologically responsible, we had ordered plates, cups, mugs, forks, knives and the like from a local home goods store.  It was a great experience to have pizza on bone china with a knife and fork.  The immediate problem that arose was that no one wanted to load the dishwasher and left everything in the sing (I mean EVERYTHING, or worse, the half-eaten meals were just left on the desk.  The situation was remedied when an extra person was hired to load the dishwasher and to round up the half-eaten food off the desks and bring them into the kitchen.  Also, various members of the company were put to shame for not cleaning up. 

A second problem arose when people started to toss various items in the trash absent-mindedly.  Soon, there were an uneven pairs of bamboo chopsticks, sets of silverware became individual pieces and demitasse spoons for the esspresso cups went missing.  The addition of disposable cutlery and plates mitigated the inadvertent disposal of the more permanent cutlery, but it also increased the amount of waste that was produced.  Soon, paper and plastic cups where available to everyone and it further reduced the load on the dishwasher. 

The presentation of these things have a point.  Not that reducing waste (disposable plates, cups and cutlery) will increase water usage by the dishwasher because I do not have any metrics to support that assertion nor do I even want to make that point.  Rather, last night as I was leaving the office, I went into the kitchen to put my coffee cup in the sink because I was a good and responsible citizen.  It seems that I am not the only moral being in the office because to my surprise I found another item in the sink...a plastic 16 oz. cup that was filled with detergent and water.