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Hidden Costs Series: Starbucks (video)

Hidden Costs Series: Starbucks

This is one part of a video series called “Hidden Costs”, which focuses on one particular thing and gives it a grade based on categories like Environment, Health and Economy.

While I really like this video (and a few others in the series), I disagree with a few things.  First, Starbucks does not deserve a B in the Environment category.  According to this video, their products are 10% recyclable.  All they need to do is implement composting programs at their stores, both for the employees and the customers.  The majority of waste at a coffee shop is compostable.

Time for a quick local blasting:  Philadelphia has several composting services available that are very affordable, yet the majority of our coffee shops don’t utilize them.  Hell, there’s even services provided on bicycle.  Coffee shops are among the easiest candidates for zero waste (with very little effort, mind you) all while reaping huge P.R./marketing benefits…but here they sit, just sucking.

I’ve read that some of their sites offer their coffee grind waste to anyone that wants it for their home composting efforts.  If this is really true (in my experience with calling stores it hasn’t been thus far), they should promote it more.  They save money on their waste hauling bill, connect with their customers, and avoid the landfill.  This is no-brainer stuff here.

Now for my other gripe, which many of you may disagree with: the Economy category.  Who cares about Economy?  All this says to me is that Starbucks is a corporate monster that makes $11.7 billion dollars a year.  They also employ nearly 200,000 people.  Why does this matter?  Maybe I shouldn’t talk because I have a job, but all this says to me is that they’re a giant company that has that has even more of a responsibility to do right.

Keeping the focus on economy and jobs instead of environment and social issues is a great way to keep everyone hating each other and the war effort alive and well.  While I know I sound like an angry teenager for writing that, I don’t care.  Watch the documentary Black Gold for a better idea on how the coffee industry works.  Starbucks is a major player in keeping things exactly how they are, and they are not worthy of a grade that equates to “Good”.