Last week, on April 15, Starbucks offered all of its customers a cup of free coffee if they brought in a reusable tumbler in which to pour said coffee. I would say that this is a significant step in the right direction in helping lower our recycling trash cost.  We are imprisoning ourselves in mounds of landfill trash.  Soon there will no escape from our toss-away lifestyle.  While Starbucks still has a long way to go to being completely environmentally friendly, it was good to see that they are making improvements.

There are a few things, however, that I would like to see Starbucks do that they do not yet do. To start, let us address the signage in stores. If you look for it, you can see signs in just about any store telling you that you get a ten cent discount on any drink if you bring in your own mug or tumbler. That information is most often not very obvious and it is not exactly broadcast to customers.

The other thing is that so many stores have stone mugs in which you can get your beverage any time you want to get your drink to stay. It frustrates me to no end when I see a person sitting in a Starbucks with multiple paper cups, paper bags, and plastic utensils. I can’t help but think of a garbage mound piling up from all of the people who get their drinks and sit in the store and throw out the cups a half hour later.

Starbucks is more than happy to put anything you buy in a paper bag — the more you buy, the bigger the bags they give you. Unlike more environmentally conscious grocery stores like Trader Joe’s, Starbucks does not offer reusable bags on a regular basis. Given the hundreds of products they offer that are not reusable bags, it does not seem that it would be so difficult for them to offer a reusable bag or two.

While I was living in Seattle, there were a few stores that offered used coffee grounds in a program called Grounds for your Garden. As fantastic as that program was, it was virtually unknown — too many people put their trash in the bins holding the used coffee grounds, not realizing that they weren’t meant for trash.

If Starbucks can continue coming up with initiatives like Free Coffee, it will be just a matter of time before other companies like it follow suit. It is noteworthy that the end result of Free Coffee Day was that all of the stores I have been contacting in the last few days told me that on the day itself, many more people got their coffee put into a tumbler. Since then the number of tumblers brought in for tumblers has gone back to its normal number — not too many.


  1. Thanks, David.
    The biggest joke is when people get an iced drink — and then ask for a paper sleeve! We wouldn’t want our precious hands getting a little moist.

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