At work, there is a coffee station with coffee, hot chocolate, tea, filtered water, and of course disposable cups. My habit had been to have a tumbler at my desk that I filled with water. And about once a week, I would bring it home to wash. So generally I was being resource conscious and not using the disposable cups. However, when I wanted a hot drink, I was stuck using a disposable cup.
Then this past week, work handed out some memorial mugs. I thought «great! Now I can stop using the cups.» So I had myself a nice cup of tea in my new mug. At the end of the day, I cleaned the residue out of the bottom of the mug and dried it out with the available paper towels.
Then it struck me that here I was using water and paper towels to clean the mug vs using one paper cup. It was not clear to me that I had actually decreased my environmental impact. I am now air drying, but still, the reusable mug is not as striking of a difference as I had expected.