A Visit to the Living Earth Café

Imagine this. You walk into the Living Earth Café, a new coffeehouse that just opened in your city. The décor is simple, and in places clashes with itself. A funky old couch dominates a corner, a few well-worn arm chairs sit to one side, occupied by two patrons engaged in a passionate debate. A mix of eclectic tables and chairs is spread around the space. At the front of the store, a prominent sign explains that all furniture is used, acquired locally from Freecycle, Craig’s List, or secondhand stores. The same sign announces that all electricity comes from renewable sources and that about half the hot water is generated from rooftop solar hot water collectors.

Over by the windows you see dozens of herbs and vegetable plants sprouting from the sills. In the corner, there’s a strange box labeled “vermicomposter” and another sign stating that “1% of our organic waste is recycled here by our worms, the other 99% in composters at our local urban garden, which produces 100% of our herbal teas and a portion of our food.”

You get in line to order a cup of the locally grown herbal tea. In front of you a customer orders a latte to go and is shocked to hear there are no to-go cups. “You can either enjoy your coffee here, sir, or you can borrow one of our travel mugs,” explains the barista. “There’s a $4 deposit, which you’ll get back if you return it.”A bit surprisingly, the guy agrees and borrows one of the mugs and goes on his way.

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