Straw-Free Is Not Enough: An Open Letter To Starbucks

Straw-Free Is Not Enough: An Open Letter To Starbucks


(updated 1st October 2020)

2 Minutes Read

Why are consumers using single-use cups, despite consuming their beverage in store? - Media Credit:
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As the
world’s highest grossing coffee company, Starbucks has significant potential to
impact not only the creation of waste – but how consumers think about
environmental responsibility.

While the
company has taken steps in the right direction – with its recent straw ban, for
example – I aim to make the case that that simply isn’t enough, and that a few simple
changes could have a tremendous impact on consumers’ habits.

Steps taken

The coffee
giant has launched a number of small initiatives aimed at reducing
environmental impact – or staying relevant. Frankly, I don’t care what the
motive is as long as there’s forward momentum.

Starbucks’ efforts apparently go beyond the recently introduced straw-free policy.
According to an employee I recently spoke with in my hometown, the company
makes an effort to avoid the use of sleeves and, thankfully, those abysmal
green plastic hole-plugging sticks where possible.

But what
about when the company has the opportunity to avoid the use of single-use
products all together?


being someone who likes to support local businesses, I do spend a lot of time
working at various Starbucks locations – all around the world. The chain can be trusted for dairy-free options, good
workspace, fast internet, and a consistent product.

Starbucks became
more appealing to me when I realised they offer mugs, dishes, and cutlery for
in-store drinking and dining. The only issue with this is that most consumers seem to be totally oblivious to these options – which, unfortunately, doesn’t surprise me.

You see – I
was never offered these things, I only know they exist because I looked and asked for them.

Without fail, every time
I’m in a Starbucks, I watch anywhere between three and 20 people drink out of
disposable cups, throw them in the garbage (because who recycles?) and leave without a second thought – all while the ceramic mugs sit in plain view.

individuals take more responsibility for their own waste creation and request reusable
mugs and dishes? Absolutely.

But, with respect to Starbucks, great power brings great responsibility. Reusable dishes should be pushed
at every location. There should be clear advertisement for them at every
register, every employee should be trained to ask every time, and the chain should take it
upon itself to ensure that its costumers have the opportunity to make the
responsible choice.

A little can go a long way with the kind of influence Starbucks has. A little more can go even further.

Those who have the power to offset needless waste should go the extra mile to exercise it – Starbucks inclusive.


Plant Based News acknowledges that there are situations in which certain
consumers require a straw due to physical
limitations, and does not oppose the use of straws in these special

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