Friday’s Earth Day article in the Washington Post, “Starbucks, Whole Foods and how they and other corporations stack up on Earth Day,” by Sarah Anne Hughes, made me think it’s time to blog….
I’m an environmentalist/sustainability proponent in the making – I expect it to take the rest of my lifetime of constant redefinition and making of new understanding to come close to what some folks have known for a long time. Yet, in fact, I am trying to make new understanding, change my own behaviors and put into action what I can begin to cognize intellectually. If you relate to my growing pain, please let me know. Here’s my most recent crisis of conscience – should I avoid Starbucks?
I like Starbucks coffee. I like that Starbucks has ethically sourced and roasted coffee for 40 years. I like that Starbucks pays its employees a living wage. I like that the food served at Starbucks “never has additives” – trust me, I can feel the difference.
I don’t like that most of what I purchase at Starbucks comes in one-time containers. I dutifully recycle plastic cups and paper sleeves, but I don’t know what to do with the paper cups or napkins – hey Starbucks – how ‘bout providing compostable trash collection the way Whole Foods does?
My real moral outrage toward Starbucks, however, takes the form of the K-cup. The K-cup represents the most energy-intensive, resource-wasting, environmentally insensitive way to make a cup of coffee on the planet. Let’s see, K-cups are for GMCR’s Keurig Single-Cup brewers – electric machines dedicated to making one cup of coffee at a time, each cup requiring the manufacture and use of a single-portion plastic object for one time use, and usually filling a disposable cup. In March, Starbucks inked a deal to manufacture, market, distribute and sell Starbucks coffee in K-cups. Starbucks – how do you rationalize your K-cup expansion with otherwise ethical behavior? Have you gone off your nut?