Lancer Kind, Science Fiction author

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Change the world, one cup at a time!

11 February, 2015 (23:30) | Uncategorized | By: Lancer Kind

You remember how your mother kept saying that, “anything is possible,” that, “if you work hard you can achieve anything.” And then when you rearranged the living room to play soccer behind the couch, you discovered that Mom had a lot of “qualifiers” for “anything is possible.” Well, I want to share with you something that happened recently that makes me feel like soccer in the living room is “in” again.

Lancer Kind and China Miéville

Lancer Kind and China Miéville

As a science fiction author, I’m way outside the box. In fact somedays, I feel bad because if I’m too far “outside” how can I change the box that I’m actually in? Well for this writer I’m often writing fiction that is designed to motivate readers to make the world a better place. But as I and China Melville discussed over coffee at ReaderCon, sometimes change is best brought about by direct action. IE, putting the damn pen down and doing something about it.

Sure I’ve gone to my share of candlelight vigils and peace protests, but for some social change, you can be more direct: be the change, and be vocal and charming.

I get frustrated whenever I’d enter a Starbucks store, and one-hundred percent of the people are sipping lattes through paper cups because, despite the customer telling them they are a “drink in,” the barista handed them a paper cup. This is despite every Starbucks store having a stock of ceramic coffee cups for hot beverage “drink ins.”

This is completely wasteful!

Not to mention that you’re tasting paper fibers with your coffee instead of, well, a latte with a hint of vanilla and nutmeg.

Recently, I’ve been spending a lot if time in India, and as is my habit, I went to a coffee shop to write. So at Phoenix Market City I found coffee (Starbucks) and placed my order. It went like the following:
Lancer: “Grande Vanilla latte.”
barista: “Drink in?”
Lancer: “Yes–Oh! Don’t use whipped cream.”
The barista grabs a marker and a paper cup. (I’m expecting and watching for this move, so I leap into action.)
Lancer: “Whoa! Can you give me a ceramic cup.”
Barista is surprised, but then reaches underneath and preps a ceramic cup.
Lancer with smile: “Stop killing trees man.”
Barista laughs with good nature.
Lancer turns to include those in the queue behind me. “Why aren’t all the drink-ins getting ceramic cups?”
Barista manager: “It’s more labor to wash the cups.”
Lancer: “I’m in the second most populated country in the world and you’re worried about labor?”
The baristas all laugh, sorta nodding. The people in the queue laugh and a few of them request ceramic cups.

Now all of this is normal. For years this has been my shtick for coffee shops in US, China, and now India. But what happened when I entered this Starbucks store on the next weekend was amazing: people sitting at tables and drinking hot drinks all had ceramic cups! And this continued for week after week after week! This busy Starbucks store sells more than 400 beverages on a busy weekend day. At least half are hot beverages, so that’s 200 paper cups saved from the recycler a day.
So just like your mom said, “You may be able to change the world, but don’t think you can play soccer in the living room.” Which translates to, if you’re outside of your parent’s home, GO FOR IT!

We celebrated with coffee!

We celebrated with coffee!

These world changing baristas signed this lovely cup.

These world changing baristas signed this lovely cup.