Pay What You Feel Cafes

Last summer, I stayed at a small hotel in the centre of Pisa and instead of a bar, they had an 'honesty' box. You simply helped yourself to a glass of wine, or two, and deposited your 2 euros in the box next to the array of red and white wine bottles. Similarly, I have a log supplier near home, where I can pick up a regular supply of wood for our wood burner and simply leave my cash payment in the 'honest' box. Both examples reduce the costs of staffing and rely upon the honesty of the customer. And as I often find with my wood purchase, I end up leaving more cash then I should, as I don't always carry the correct change, so overpay.

Honesty boxes are nothing new and overpaying is often a consequence of not carrying exact change, but paying £74 ($104) for a coffee is raising the stakes beyond the acceptable. That's how much a customer paid at the Metro cafe in Santa Monica in California recently.

Experts say that honesty boxes are more likely to work in small community cafes, like Metro, than corporate chains such as Starbucks or Costa. But here in the UK, the Real Junk Project runs pay-what-you-feel community cafes in cities around the country to highlight ways to cut food waste. You can find them in Leeds, Birmingham, Brighton, Manchester, Leicester, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Plymouth and many more cites. Let's just hope that generous Californian resident pays them a visit!


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