As many of you surely do, I take advantage of the free coffee provided by my company in the shared kitchen.

One thing I don’t take advantage of is the powdered creamer.  I realized quite a while ago that:

  • It doesn’t taste good
  • It was probably giving me cancer (seriously, check out the ingredients list on that stuff….)

So, I started bringing in my own half and half.

I’ve noticed, over time, that others have started doing the same thing.  Luckily, we don’t have the problem that many offices have, where stuff gets stolen.  I usually write my name on the carton and I’ve never noticed it getting moved or an amount that would suggest that someone is taking what’s not their.

So, that’s good.

I’ve noticed that others appear to be doing the same thing, as there are typically at least three other containers on the shelf.

It made me wonder whether there might be an opportunity to collaborate, and of course save some money, for surely the smaller cartons that we’re all bringing in cost more than we would pay for a bigger carton.

Good old economies of scale, right?  (Can you tell that I was an econ major in undergrad?)

Quickly, though, I dismissed the idea.  It just seemed ripe for problems.

First, a closer examination of the cartons revealed a lot of different preferences.  I use regular half-and-half.  There’s a carton of non-fat (which, by the way, how is that even possible?).  One appeared to be just cream.  Another was flavored.  Finally, there was some sort of identification of a soy based product.

Clearly, that wouldn’t work.

Second, even if there was a common product, it seemed ripe for problems.  You’d have to have someone be responsible for collecting money and buying the stuff.  Rotating that just seems more hassle than it’s worth, and what do do you do if someone ‘forgets’ or goes on vacation and doesn’t bring it in?  What if someone quits or someone else catches wind and tries to get in on it?  What do you do to balance the person that drinks one cup a day with the person that measures their consumption in pots?

Even though there is most likely money to be saved by pooling together, the logistics just don’t seem worth it.

Still, it’s always fun trying to spot areas where money could be saved, and I’m sure there are others out there who might be more up for the challenge!