Me at Yoga Conference, offered a small cup of “Organic Coconut Water.” No, thanks.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Mar 27, 2013
get elephant's newsletter

fiji plastic water bottle eco greenwashing

Me at Yoga Conference, offered a small cup of “Organic Coconut Water.” No, thanks.

The lady paid to offer the organic coconut water? Why not?

I’m on a plastic diet, I smile, nicely, and go to move on.

Wha? She and another retail coconut guy say.

Realizing they haven’t thought much about it, so I’m not making any sense (ie they think I’m not eating plastic, now), I say “Oh—I’m trying to use as little plastic as possible.” I smile again, genuinely.

The woman looks offended. “You can recycle this!,” she insists.

“No…well…” realizing she has no idea what she’s talking about, and doesn’t care, and is mad, I apologize and move along, then chide them humorously for three days from the stage, like the Eco Boy that I am.

So: what’s the contradiction in offering coconut harvested halfway across the world, flown or shipped (it’s mostly water, so verrrry heavy) to us in plastic, then poured into a new plastic container? Well, it’s all ridiculous consumption, unnecessary, bad for our planet, all about making a buck for them and selfish wellness for us.

But the basic contradiction is this: plastic is forever. And when it’s used for one-time use, and we have a choice, it’s morally incumbent upon us to say “no, thanks,” nicely. We don’t have to be d**ks about it.

It’s all about fun education, not a moral failing in others. We don’t help by pre-judging others for not caring. It’s our job to make them care.

Finally, plastic isn’t really recyclable. Even if it is, which it’s not, really, it’s toxic from start to finish, including the recycling process. It’s carcinogenic, related to cancer and pollution, made out of petroleum that is won by turning the world from green to black and starting wars and creating all that pollution and disease. It never goes away: at best it breaks down and clogs our oceans and seashores and landfills and when animals or fish or birds eat it, and we eat them, we get it and all that comes with it.

Here’s some tips on going plastic-free, or at least plastic-lite, like me.


Recycling one ton of plastic bags costs $4,000. The recycled product can be sold for $32.

Wikipedia says “Virgin plastic resin costs 40 percent less than recycled resin.”

Mixed plastic garbage is going to be almost impossible to process. PE, PVC, HDPE, etc all broken down in to tiny particles, and impossible to separate. Hell, I’d be surprised if burning the plastic would provide enough money to even pay the gasoline bill for these ships. It’s all going to be wet, too.

There’s a reason less than 1% of plastic is recycled.

So don’t use it in the first place. Say no to to-go cups. Say no to samples, unless they’re in waxed paper. Even compostable plastic isn’t so great.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


9 Responses to “Me at Yoga Conference, offered a small cup of “Organic Coconut Water.” No, thanks.”

  1. Kiki says:

    Thank you so much for writing this! I have also begun to wonder how our exploding demand for coco water and oil is going to challenge the eco-stasis yet again. Tropical food for thought.

  2. Mushim Ikeda says:

    Supporting local organic farming and sustainable agriculture is important, in my opinion. It also means we'll eat less of whatever non-local foods that are trendy or that promise various hyped up health benefits. The coco water craze will pass. It's unfortunate that it took hold just as, to me at least, there seemed to be a lot more consciousness about not buying bottled water in plastic containers, and instead carrying one's own refillable metal water bottle.

  3. Jessica Marie says:

    I am currently living & traveling in Australia, and being from Boulder, I find myself very upset by the lack of conciousness regarding our impact on the earth here.

    As much as I would like ‘saying No to a sample cup’ to help make a difference, I see the big picture as a much sadder issue. When will this convenience based waste become a concern of the majority of the world? What is it going to take for people to wake up & see the devastation we are causing to the planet?

    From living in Boulder and seeing all the steps being taken to help decrease our impact in this fast-paced, consumerism driven world, it breaks my heart to see the lack of thought about it in other places along my travels.

    After working for The West End Tavern in Boulder that is PACE certified and taking every opportunity to compost, recycle, & simply waste less, I have an understanding for how easy it can be to value and make these changes within a business. Many restaurants here do not recycle anything but cardboard, laugh at the concept of composting, and create ungodly amounts of waste every day of their operations. I’ve spoken to the managers at many restaurants, and tried to make an impact by implementing small changes along the way, but what can I do to help make a difference while I am here?

    Can my refusal of the plastic cup of coconut water really help make a change?

  4. Vijay Vadlamani says:

    Consume less. Produce more…even if you can't produce more, consume less.

  5. elephantjournal says:

    Yes. Of course. All the drops together equal an ocean of change. Each drop, if a plastic cup, however, joins together to equal an ocean of plastic crap–which is what we have in the Pacific right now.

    That said, amen. Inspiring to hear your story. Query's restaurants are rocking on the eco front–if you'd like to share the word of what you're doing, would love! Email me at [email protected] or send an article to , I'll feature it

  6. Taj Marble says:

    I like the ones that come in Tetra Paks like Vita Coco – natural, ecofriendly, socially-responsible, and RECYCLABLE! It's good stuff. I don't like all the flavors but for me it's pretty close to the real thing.

  7. If we are going to recycle the recyclable items like plastics then we can might minimize waste as well as come up to new product.

  8. Robyn says:

    How about the food miles? The lack of emissions controls in originating countries? The abuse of the social and Eco system in the origin country?
    Say no to plastic bottles!
    Say no to bottled water!
    Say no to self-indulgent wellness fads!

    Do some research. What makes ingredient A good for you? What is a local/closer option?

  9. Mustapha says:

    Thank you so much for writing this!