Green Business Bureau Blog
The New Singles Club: The Cost of Single Servings
In a world where people are obsessed with buying items in bulk to save a few cents, it is ironic to see a new craze coming in the form of single servings. Where money can be saved in buying a 5 pound can of coffee beans, people are willing to pay three times as much for having a single serving packet of flavored coffee. This attitude is a by-product of a 21st Century generation that is used to high tech gadgets and the instant gratification of online social networking. An attitude that says, “I want it my way, and I want it now.” But how did such a crazy view get started?
Meet my little friend
We need to face the fact that in the pre-21st Century we were a soda based society. Coke and Pepsi ruled and we were happy to take soda cans everywhere. Next, began the health craze to get back to basics with drinking clean, fresh spring water from a bottle. But let’s face it, water is just water, and can get pretty boring after a while. People started by mixing flavors in the water by spoon, and soon someone realized that they could package the mixture in an envelope.
Like colors of the rainbow
Now a tiny packet, the size of a stick of gum, can be stashed away in a pocket or purse for use in the instant that someone wants to flavor their water. Once people realized they could have punch flavored water, the craze quickly included any sort of drink from ice tea to an energy drink, and now iced coffee. But why stop at cold drinks – instant coffee can be portable too. Add to that flavored coffees and you can pretty much have whatever kind of drink wherever and whenever you want.
The expanding explosion
The idea of single servings is not just left to water drinks anymore. People realized they could open just a single serving of wine now instead of a whole bottle. Why let beer have all the glory of single serving bottles. Someone can have dinner at a friend’s house where everyone can have their favorite type of wine without the hostess being stuck with 5 unfinished bottles. If one can have the wine they want, then why not let everyone have the desert they want. The single serving craze has expanded into the dessert realm. You can check out the freezer section for your favorite frozen dessert from pints of ice cream naughtiness, or that gorgeous turtle pie. Skip over to the cake aisle and find single servings of moist sugary cakes of all designs and dreaminess.
Photo from news.cnet.com
Too much of a good thing
The single serving craze is great for instant satisfaction, but what happens after you have finished the perfect slice of turtle pie? Instead of one box to toss in the trash, now you have six times the cardboard and most likely spent six times more than you would have for a full pie that could have been cut into six pieces. Instead of one bottle of wine, now there are six to be recycled. Single servings, although convenient for society, has in a way taken a step backward when considering environmental conservation. Care needs to be taken when selecting the materials that the single servings are packaged in or the world can see a new epidemic similar to the water bottle problem.
Everything in its place
The truth is that where there is a want, there is a way. There was a want to have any flavored drink wherever and whenever someone wanted it. Although single servings can create more trash than is needed, they do serve their purpose. A parent can utilize this craze to help satisfy a cranky toddler who may not drink water, but can get hydrated with a quick mixture with their favorite flavor. Single serving drinks, coffee, creamers, and other dry goods make excellent fillers for emergency kits. In the time of a disaster, being able to choose what flavor you want today can make all the difference in a time when choices will be scarce and tensions high. Keeping your favorite flavored coffee packet stashed in the back of your desk drawer can save the day when you out of coffee grounds. Single servings are forever here to stay. However, with careful consideration of cost and recyclability, they can at least be a bit better. If you look you will see that more companies are offering paper containers for drinks and even plastic bottling companies are seeking to use less plastic per bottle.