Hone this Habit

Those stars mean everything to me. I don’t know why having Gold status for Starbucks Rewards makes one feel so entitled, but spending $4.25 on a grande iced chai tea latte seems worth it when a little gold star pops up on your Starbucks app’s account history. Like most millennials, I go to Starbucks about two or three times a week, often for a caffeine pick-me-up during dreary college days, or to chat with a dear friend over coffee. I can down my iced latte in a matter of minutes, but what about the plastic cup I throw away after? How long does it take for that waste to be disposed of? While our Starbucks drinks are ephemeral and our addictions harmless, the waste of our paper and plastic cups is permanent.

The author's personal thermos with the Starbucks adhesive label; at the Starbucks in Georgetown.
The author’s personal thermos with the Starbucks adhesive label; at the Starbucks in Georgetown.

For the first time the other day, I brought my own thermos to my local Starbucks. I was expecting the barista to be annoyed or inconvenienced, but without a moment’s hesitation she pulled out a small sticker to adhere to my thermos, and labeled my drink order on the sticker in sharpie. A few minutes later, I had my drink, and knew it was mine and no one else’s because of my personal thermos. (If you’re someone plagued by Starbucks misspelling your name, perhaps bringing your own cup is a good way to avoid them butchering your name on your plastic cup every visit).

Starbucks is a huge advocate of customers bringing reusable cups, even though they have not had much success. The Seattle-based company’s original goal in 2008 was to serve 25% of beverages made in their stories with reusable cups in 2015, but their current goal has been decreased to a mere 5%. Why the change? Because, since 2011, only 2% of beverages made in the company’s stores worldwide have been served in reusable cups. Granted, that still totals to 34 million times, but that also means that 98% of those beverages were served in paper or plastic cups.

An infographic from Starbuck's environmental stewardship initiative featuring reusable cups.
An infographic from Starbuck’s environmental stewardship initiative featuring reusable cups.

While it may not seem like 2% of beverages is a large quantity, those 34 million times a customer drank from a reusable cup have saved over 1.5 million pounds of paper from landfills. Thus, try to hone this habit of bringing a reusable cup to Starbucks whenever you go. Not only can it benefit the environment by minimizing waste, but it also helps the Starbucks company try to achieve their long-term goal. Plus, to incentivize the customer, Starbucks let’s you save 10 cents every time you use a reusable cup instead of paper or plastic. Every dime adds up!

© Rissponsible Living, 2015

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