I bumped into Susie by the coffee machine and the water fountain at the end of last week. She was filling a cup with water, and was pleased to tell me that with it – her ecocup – she had, between water and coffee, saved over 1000 disposable paper cups in 2014.

This is admirable, and I am ashamed. I am an inveterate user of disposable cups, even using them for the filter coffee that appears at first break, where china cups are also laid out (mealy justification: I can fit more coffee in a paper cup, and it doesn’t slop over the sides so easily; invariable if I carry a china cup and saucer downstairs I end up slurping my coffee from the saucer). So unbeknown to Susie, she and I operate a carbon trading system in my head, whereby I take up the slack in emissions which her actions generate.

Which begs the question I suppose, what does the credit side of my balance sheet look like? Well I’m not going to make a list, but I’m feeling a bit smugger than usual this Christmas, having cut back a little on the tat. I was in John Lewis yesterday and people were buying presents – I saw a young man staring helplessly at a display of pasta machines, clearly wondering a) what they were  and b) if his mother would like one. I also saw a young couple looking desperately at a couple of ping-pong bats, for a niece or nephew I suppose.

It’s all a bit desperate. I am not about to buy people goats for Christmas, but I am doing better than the memorable Christmas several years ago when my children were very young, when I thought we would be trapped, unable to open the door for the mass of wrapping paper and rubbish that was slow-motion exploding in the room; we would be found, months or years later, I envisioned, like the skeletons of tomb raiders weighed down by the gold they could not carry and would not give up.

So this year as presents I am giving less rubbish, and more recyclable alcohol in bottles (not to my children). I hope to receive more of the same. And I promise not to drink any of it from a paper cup.


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