The Green Blog
I Will Have a Green Mocha Latte, Please
Waking up in the morning is hard to do without a hot cup of coffee, right? You stop by your local coffee shop or Starbucks to start the day off right, but have you ever thought that your nice cup of coffee is hurting the environment?

The coffee industry, Starbucks and coffee shops alike have been criticized by environmentalists for their unsustainable ways for years now. Coffee is cultivated in tropical countries thousands of miles away from the United States. Thus, coffee bean transportation relies on extensive resources such as heat, cooling and power to ship the beans to the stores. Starbucks has also been criticized for the amount of wasteful water used daily. To clean the utensils, Starbucks uses dipper wells that run water continuously, using up to a reportedly 6.2 million gallons of water a day. The biggest criticism that has left a footprint on the industry is recycling. Currently, Starbucks is criticized for using unrecyclable products to consume coffee. Starbucks uses cups with a polyethylene plastic coating that prevents leaking. As a result, most recycle centers will not take them.

On a positive note, Starbucks has reflected on these criticisms and tried to change their ways of trade and services to become greener. Starbucks has teamed with Conservation International to create Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices (C.A.F.E. Practices), a set of environmentally, economically, and socially responsible coffee purchasing guidelines. It has also opened a new LEED-certified roasting plant in South Carolina to start producing locally.

Starbucks has also started a movement called shared planet which is a "commitment to doing business in ways that are good to each other and the planet. It is based on three actions: sourcing our coffee ethically, acting as good stewards of the environment, and being actively involved in our communities," according the Starbucks website. More information can be found at Shared Planet.

 Starbucks is projecting to switch to using only recyclable cups by 2012 and currently offering ceramic mugs for the "for here" customers. If customers ask for a ceramic mug, they will receive a .10 discount on their purchase.

So what can you do?
 -If you have time, ask for a ceramic mug or a cup "for here"
-Look and ask for fair trade coffee
-Be active in your local community and ask if your local coffee shop uses recyclable cups and has recyclable bins in the store
-Bring your own cup/mug to fill up with coffee

Read more here about the damage coffee pods are doing to our environment.

See also "This Horror Film is About K-cups."

Resources
Business Industry
Starbucks Shared Planet
Inspired Economist