Drink coasters are a smart thing to have, but a dumb thing to buy. One of life’s great ironies is that the most expensive coasters are usually made of rigid, hefty material that—instead of absorbing moisture—allows it to pool until it cannot be contained, spilling over onto your surfaces. The solution to this is clear: Do not buy coasters; instead, steal them from bars.
Now, the word “steal” is a bit of a stretch. For one, these paper circles or squares get dirty pretty quickly, which means they get tossed after one or two uses. Bars usually expect—or even want—you to take them, as they almost always have the bar’s name on them, so you are basically assisting them with advertising when you take them out into the world. (And they definitely don’t give a damn about the promotional coasters a beer or liquor brand dropped off.) If you are still struggling with the morality of taking coasters from bars, simply ask the bartender if you can have one. They will not say “no.”
Beyond being free, the advantages of taking paper coasters from bars are many. They are more absorbent than expensive coasters made of hard material (like dumb tile), they are thin and light and easy to store, and they make you look like a cool and interesting person who has been to many cool and interesting places. They are one of my favorite souvenirs to collect, and they remind me of all the great times I have had at various fine establishments around the country. (Oh, and they’re free. Did I mention that they’re free?)