At the client where I work, we have some very nice coffee machines, which serve up very nice coffee.
Unfortunately, they recently did away with stir sticks, opting instead to go with plastic spoons. Now, of course we're all becoming more and more environmentally-minded in Canada, so everyone wants to do their part.
To a point.
Here's how it works. Person A comes looking for a coffee, and notices that there are no stir sticks. So s/he takes a plastic spoon, stirs her/his coffee, and thinks
Well done, Person A! You've struck a blow for environmentalism everywhere.
Hmm. What should I do with this spoon? It would be a waste to throw it out, after just one use. I know! I'll fill a cup with water, and put the spoon there. Then people can reuse it!
But wait, let's see how this plays out. Here comes Person B. Person B would also like a coffee, and notices that there are no stir sticks, and thinks
And so Person B does. And then adds it to the cup of water.
Hmm. There are no stir sticks, but there is this cup of water, with a spoon in it. I wonder how long that spoon's been there... Oh well. Better not take a chance. I'll get a new one.
And now, along comes Person C. By this point, there are two spoons in the cup of water, and because there was a little bit of coffee on one of the spoons, the water is kind of brown. That, my friends, is disgusting. I can't even blame Person C for ignoring the cup altogether, and getting a fresh spoon.
And thus it goes, throughout the day, until the cleaning staff comes in late at night, and throws out the cup full of accumulated plastic spoons, so that the cycle can start afresh on the morrow.
Incidentally, in case you're wondering, when I get a coffee I take one of the used spoons from the awful brown-watered cup, and rinse it off and wipe it with a paper towel, then put it back into the cup.
But if I were you, I wouldn't give me any credit until I start bringing in my own cups, instead of using the disposable paper ones...