Thumbs up to Mr Green

Filed in Blog by on January 28, 2011 15 Comments
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Mr Green - a man who puts his money where his mouth is...

Mr Green - a man who puts his money where his mouth is...

Last week Mr Green and I had to make a visit to London and it included an overnight stay.

We stayed in a lovely hotel with the biggest bed you’ve ever seen. It was wider than it was long and took up most of the room.

I arrived, trusty hot water bottle in tow (I don’t go anywhere without my hot water bottle I’ll have you know!), and looked around the room for the kettle to fill it up.

10 minutes and a few cupboards and drawers later I found the sweetest, tiniest kettle you ever did see. My hot water bottle had rather an empty tummy that night and I was mighty chilly being about 6 feet away from my beloved Mr G but there we are.

As you might be aware, there is little use me talking to Mr Green in the mornings before he’s had his coffee. At best I get a grunt and at worst, well, we won’t go into that…

After a rather sleepless night with people playing musical instruments outside our bedroom window until 3am, numerous police sirens and shops open until silly o’clock, Mr Green really needed a cup of the strong, brown stuff.

I rummaged through the tea and coffee making facilities and was presented with these naughty fellows:

Kenco single serve coffee

Kenco single serve coffee

“Single serve” coffee sticks.

You can tell I’m a country girl (and one who rarely stays in a hotel) because I’d never even come across these before and was lost for words. I held them up menacingly to Mr Green along with the single serve milkย  and the plastic individual servings of sugar whilst asking him if he’d like one sugar or two.

individual milk container

individual milk container

Mr Green sighed, sniffed, wrestled with his conscience and said he’d go without!

To be honest I didn’t know whether it would be best for both his and my sanity to just rip open the plastic and make him a cuppa. I mean, I could have just chucked all the packaging in the hotel bin and you lovely lot would have been none the wiser. But being a woman of conscience and all that…

Downstairs we met our friend who had ordered a coffee. The smell of it was too much to bear and Mr Green signalled to the waiter that he’d like to join her. As the colour returned to his face and the caffeine worked its magic, Mr Green was soon a paler shade of white when faced with the bill:

ยฃ15 for two cups of coffee.

Although our zero waste lifestyle fits hand in hand with a frugal one, there are times when it clearly pays to choose the convenient option.

Tell me your story; when have you paid more to support a principle?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth’s fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (15)

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  1. Good on Mr Green for trying but the price was insane. I bet he almost choked and the last mouthful. In the same ballpark here – why does it cost more for a packet of tea without bags than it does for the same tea with porous bag, string and staple attached. So much for trying to do the right thing there too it really isn’t worth in the inconvenience.

  2. pamela says:

    This post has me smiling and nodding sagely, oh yes – been there, done that, t.shirt etc…..! The dilemma frugal vs environmentally conscience-safe is soooooo difficult sometimes. Add to the mix vegan-suitable and, well, it gets very complicated. My choices went 1. Vegan, 2. Frugal, 3. E c-s. So, all the coffee/tea/milk subs were taken and used throughout the trip, fill flasks, thermo-mugs etc., All the teenie-weenie toiletries were taken and passed on to non-vegan companions., hot water bottles filled from the hot tap whilst running a bath. Yes! A bath full of hot bubbles. Every night.
    However……the really BIG ISSUES were transport – we flew to California and drove two thousand miles whilst there. Gulp. It was a really really hard decision to do that, believe me. Maybe I’ll have to blog about this another time.
    xxx

  3. Karin says:

    I don’t drink tea or coffee, so I take my own red bush tea bags. If you stay in a hotel again you could take a small container with coffee in it, now you know what hotels are like. I’m not sure what you can do about milk as that would go off in transit. I take a small carton of rice milk or two. If I am feeling virtuous I might take the tetrapak carton(s) home to recycle. I think if you only do something, like stay in a hotel, very occasionally it’s OK to have a brief relapse, though.

  4. Karin says:

    P.S. Traidcraft do sugar sticks in paper sachets, for anyone who visits hotels on a frequent basis, and Cafedirect Classic Freeze Dried Fairtrade Coffee Sticks, although it would be worth checking if these are wrapped in paper or plastic.

  5. CarSue says:

    We pay more to support principals practically daily! Soy protein links (veggie dogs, hotdog substitute) cost me $3.99 for a pack of 8, while a pack of traditional pork(ish) hotdogs can be bought at same shop for $0.89. Absurd! I didn’t become vegetarian for health reasons, I did it because I abhor the treatment of animals raised for slaughter and the tremendously negative impact that their keeping has on the environment. We also buy organic produce whenever possible, which is almost always more expensive, but once again has less impact on the planet. We do buy eggs; I get them from a farm up the street from our’s and pay $2.50 per dozen, compared to the $1.09 I could get them for in the supermarket. But these chickens are raised completely outside, fed an organic, meat-free diet, and are truly healthy & happy animals (their keeper even uses their poo to fertitlize her veg garden!).

    I’m glad Mr. Green stuck to his guns. Bowing to convenience and ease is what has lead to the current throw-away, disposable culture we’re in currently. Keep it up Green Family!

  6. Leigh says:

    I agree with your complaints about the plastic packs, and the ridiculous pricing in hotels.

    It also really annoys me that almost all hotels provide little toiletries in separate plastic bottles. Most people I know automatically gather them up and take them home.

    And often little wrapped bars of soap. Most people would unwrap and use the soap once or twice. The cleaner would then remove it and replace. What a waste!

    I really dont understand why the hotels don’t provide toiletries in dispensers (perhaps fixed to the wall so they don’t get pinched), surely that would be more cost effective for them as well as being greener option.

  7. Poppy says:

    That was so funny Mrs G. I know what you mean about the 24/7 sounds of the city. We were in London a year or so ago, and I found it incredibly hard to sleep. Music, shouting and sirens go on and on and ……!

    Although it’s a little louder here than it is where you live, I still find the whole package of in your face mega consumerism very hard to deal with.

    My inner battle at the moment is the around the quality of the veg we get in our organic box. So much of it is rotting before we get to use it, but we still persevere because *next week will be better* …. won’t it?

  8. Karen says:

    I too was in a Posh London hotel last weekend. I always ask downstairs either in the bar or restaurant for a jug of fresh milk. I have never been charged for it and they are happy to give me one. Although this time the waiter said be careful and if I dropped it I was just to leave it and tell the staff. Health and Safety I guess.I take my own tea from home.
    I always ask housekeeping for extra blankets although I did have my hottie too.Took bed socks incase. The heating in the room was up at 23 degrees when we arrived but fortunately we were able to alter it.
    I never use their small bottles of shampoo as usually they are poor in quality. I posted a message on my Facebook asking people if they used the bath caps. Ideas that came back were- covering shoes in case , wrap round damp soap, around facecloths, protect cameras from the damp and more.
    I use the free slippers. I leave one pair at a friends house so I can be more comfortable when I visit. I use them when I go travelling.
    Aeroplanes also have a lot of waste with their soap bags that they supply to their customers . As my husband does a lot of long haul flights a lot of them have ended up at home. I do make use of everything in them except the ear plugs. So what can I do with them and how should they be disposed of?

  9. Karen Mattos says:

    Hotels are usually ‘rip-off’ merchants and more so in big cities.
    I, being a ‘coffee snob’ do not like instant coffee and have been known to take my own coffee and cafetiere when going away and hotels never have my lemon and ginger tea bags.
    I should have a reduction for not using their supplies!!!!
    Karen.

  10. LJayne says:

    Yay Mr Greeb ๐Ÿ™‚ I spent more on tagliatelle this morning because Tesco offered me the choice between plastic wrapping and a cardboard box (the latter being 5p more expensive) and I chose to buy the one with the better packaging.

    I always try and buy tea that is only in a cardboard box and nothing else or only has true foil wrapping – lots of the foil used has something else bonded to it as well – and this often costs more *sigh*.

    On a side note, I love the look I get from checkout assistants when they come to weigh my loose fruit & veg. They’ve stopped asking me if they should bag it up for me lol ! Grapes and cauliflower came in plastic 4 wrapping so they are permitted as I can recycle this at my local sainsburys.

  11. Jo says:

    LJayne – I’m on the lookout for tea that’s packaged in a box only or with proper foil wrapping because I’ve been caught out a few times by incorrect recycling information on the boxes. Can you share the brands that you buy?

  12. Alyson says:

    If its loose tea you’re after, Sainsbury red label. But don’t get their double packs , they’re wrapped in plastic!. PG tips comes in a cardboard box too,but its a bit more expensive.

  13. LJayne says:

    PG tips if you can get it without the plastic wrap on the top – seems to depend on what size & shape of bag of theirs you plump for.

    I usually try and buy fairtrade tea and certainly the last lot of clipper I bought from Sainsburys had no plastic wrap outside or anything inside. They’ve recently re-launched their packaging I think and made it all pretty and done away with the outer plastic. Their organic breakfast tea is a real treat.

    Or I buy in bulk from Traidcraft direct. It comes in huge plastic bags but they are plastic 4 – which you can recycle in the carrier bag collection box if your Sainsburys is large enough to have one. Or I use them around the house. Keeps our home-made bread really well!

    We got bought a box of Whittard’s teas (how I miss that shop!) for Christmas and they are just in cardboard boxes too. I think Waitrose do them?

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Colleen (365lessthings.com): Hi Colleen, I must admit I’ve not priced up tea as we’re not teat drinker, but you’re right – it’s insane!

    @pamela: ๐Ÿ˜€ loved your comment; I feel in good company. It’s nice to know we’re not the only one weighing up pros and cons when just trying to have a good time!

    @Karin: The last time we stayed in a hotel was about 6 years ago, so yes, we don’t feel that bad. But your suggestion of taking supplies next time is good. A small container of milk with the packaging taken home would be fine for an overnight stay …Thanks for the traidcraft tip ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @CarSue: Great comment – thanks Sue. I feel the same way about eggs. I absolutely refuse to buy battery eggs and will go without if that is all that is available. I was somewhat astounded when I asked for 1/2 a dozen eggs and was asked if I wanted ‘Free range or Normal’.

    @Poppy: Poppy, I’ve had that with a veg box too – My advise? ditch it, it won’t get better; and all you are doing is wasting food and money whilst getting frustrated. Also you are saying in effect ‘You’re stuff is so good that I’m buying it’, but it isn’t. Better to switch to another company – there is more choice now…

    @Karen: Not sure about ear plugs – are they unused? If so I would take them to a charity shop – a spouse with a snorer might appreciate them ๐Ÿ˜€

    @Karen Mattos: IF we ever have to do the big city again (which I sincerely hope not as I hated it) then we will definitely take our own supplies – lesson leaned ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @LJayne: You’re a woman of principle my lovely – checkout staff have more or less stopped asking me if I want my loose purchases bagged too ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @Jo: @Alyson: We covered zero waste tea optinons on this thread: http://mzw.wpengine.com/2009/12/mrs-green-enjoys-a-cup-of-zero-waste-tea/ It probably needs updating though – thanks for the JS option, Alyson!

  15. Jo says:

    Thanks Alyson, LJ and Mrs Green. I see there are a few more options that I thought!

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