I recently moved to Miami, which, curiously enough, is on a whole other level with how it handles the immediate comfort of its clients. Usually when I go to a restaurant, I am very good at reminding myself to request no straw. But in Miami, the moment you sit down you are promptly served tap water with a plastic straw before you can even make the request for no straw. I absolutely detest plastic and the negative impact it is leaving on the planet. I try to avoid plastic if I can, but this city seems to throw it at you in every way possible. I have never had to reject it so often in my daily life before coming to this city.
Last weekend I went for breakfast with my mother at Macondo, a Colombian café in Miami. We ordered orange juice, coffee, and Pan de Bono and then sat down at our table. When our food and coffee arrived, we were delighted. My mother was born in Bogotá, so she was really excited that we were about to indulge in delicias Colombianas. The Pan de Bono melted in our mouths and the Colombian coffee was so aromatic that if I closed my eyes I could pretend I was back in Bogotá.
After we finished our coffee and ordered more Pan de Bono, our juices arrived and I was so surprised to see they were served in disposable plastic cups with lids and straws After all, we were dining in the café and were not planning to leave anytime soon—I wondered if maybe they got confused and thought we had ordered them to go.
I looked around and realized that everyone seemed to be drinking their juices in the same plastic cups with lid and straws. I was suddenly overcome with distress. I immediately called the waitress over and asked her why they served the juices like that. She looked at me confused, so I rephrased the question, “Why don’t you serve the juices in glass cups like you do for the water?” She replied that she didn’t know and moved on to wait on another table. My mother could see how stressed I was at her response and told me not to take it out on the waitress, who was just doing her job. She pointed at a man at another table and said, “There’s the owner right there. Go talk to him.” I was highly caffeinated and really nervous when I approached him because I am not used to confronting people. I greeted him and asked him if he was the owner, which he confirmed and told me his name was Fabio. I introduced myself, politely telling him how much I liked his establishment, and how good the food, coffee, overall ambiance were. Fabio flashed me a smile and shook my hand ecstatically. “But, I do have a complaint,” I told him. “When our juices came, they arrived in disposable plastic containers. With all the contamination there is on our planet, I do believe we have to cut down the use of plastic. Since we didn’t ask for anything to go, I think you should consider asking your employees to serve the delicious beverages in glass containers or something more sustainable.” Fabio was very receptive. He told me how his daughter keeps telling him that they should rethink packaging and provide reusable cutlery and containers in the café. Fabio kindly thanked me for my proposal and left. Minutes later he returned with two cases of mason jars and said he would immediately be making the switch from the plastic cups! I was overjoyed that I had voiced my opinion and seen immediate action!
My visit to Macondo was beyond wholesome. This experience taught me how important it is to voice your opinions, especially when there is the potential to leave a good impact. It also proposed the question: What would happen if we spoke to the owner of every restaurant we frequent and made them rethink their use of plastic? Some people are not aware of its damages, and others offer it out of mere habit. Since we are all creatures of habit, it is time we get used to healthier and more sustainable habits and constantly question the systems that are conditioned into our society. Next time you go to restaurant or coffee shop and the owner just happens to be there, have a chat with them and make them question their use of plastic—they might just become part of the green revolution!