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Mr. Coffee

Daniel Velez
Daniel Velez
3 min read

Most Americans need gas to get them to and from work; they also need coffee to get them through the eight-hour workday. I'm impressed that one gallon of liquid can power a 3,000-pound car across town. But, I’m more impressed with how people can suffer through a workday that is designed to pummel their soul into little pieces — and then do it again the next day. A morning joe can power the most fickle of us through a sorry job.

I, too, like coffee in the morning. I love powering on my computer and sipping coffee. It goes together like pancakes and syrup. I like good coffee but, I’m not a prick. I buy big bags of organic coffee beans from Costco and that sustains me for months. If I had more money, I’d go over to my good friends at Cortez Coffee and get myself some single-origin beans in a glass growler, like ole times.

One day, my Mr. Coffee didn’t Mr. Wake Up. The power switch had been finicky for weeks. My first thought was to fix it. I knew the switch was the problem but, I’m not a crafty person. Why go through the hassle of repairing this thing if a new one cost $20 and Amazon could deliver it by tomorrow? The juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

I went back to Starbucks for two days while I waited for my Amazon order. I used to go more often but I realized I don’t like waiting in line and I don’t like spending money. One benefit of going to the Starbucks at the ASU student center is seeing the reusable cup washer that almost broke LinkedIn.

As the saying goes, when one Mr. Coffee dies, a baby Mr. Coffee is born.

What do I do with the broken Mr. Coffee? The carafe is half plastic and glass, so that can’t go in the recycling bin. The municipal recycling center won’t go through the brain damage of separating the plastic and glass. They’ll just throw it away. They are in the business of selling baled paper, plastic, cardboard, etc. They can’t sell a mix of plastic and glass because no broker wants that.

I could donate the carafe to Goodwill but, I ride bike to campus and it would surely crack during my commute. Maybe there’s a donation place on campus? I web search, “ASU donation,” and the only thing that comes up is ways the university can siphon money from my wallet and into their endowment.

There is a Salvation Army near campus but, will they accept my broken Mr. Coffee?

Is my Mr. Coffee e-waste? I can plug it in, so yes.

The easiest thing to do would be to throw it in the trash and forget about it, which is what most people do. Just look at the brain damage it takes to, “do the right thing,” with this broken gadget that cost $20.

Instead of owning the Mr. Coffee, what if I rented it for five years and got money back when I returned it? Then the Mr. Coffee company would be in charge of properly recycling it. I believe this is what Professor Walter R. Stahel calls The Performance Economy.

The City of Tempe has Zero Waste Days where they allow residents to bring in items that can’t go into the blue bin e.g., paint, styrofoam, bikes, etc. I’ve volunteered at one; it’s like a massive drive-thru of people who just read Marie Kondo.

In general, I’m not a big behavior change proponent because behavior change is hard and doesn’t scale well. Although, it is fulfilling for the individual. What percentage of the population will come to a Zero Waste Day? And for the population that doesn’t go, what happens to their broken lawnmowers?

Well-designed systems that create a clear path for people and, are easy to participate in, are better, e.g., the milkman model.

What isn’t is easy figuring out what to do with my broken coffee pot.

What should I do? Leave a comment below.

Essay

Daniel Velez Twitter

Daniel is building the future of reuse. His last venture, Growly Delivers, delivered local beer in returnable high-tech growlers. What will he do next?

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