BYOBeer is so high school. Bring Your Own Bag is so eco-hip.
Now it's time for BYOC, Bring Your Own Cup.
The Coffee Cup
I’ve been running a social experiment bringing in different cups to Starbucks. I tried reusing my washed clean paper cup from the day before. It looked brand new I swear. That threw them for a loop. The guy said, "I've never seen that before." When I asked them to reuse the lid, the guy asked, "Why do you want to use THAT lid?" He seemed very suspicious. I nicely asked if I received a cup credit. The guy said, "Yeah, but it's only 10 cents." He seemed like he didn’t want to give it to me? This was a very different experience than the Whole Foods line where checkers exclaim with glee, "Thank you for bringing your own bag!"
Back the next day for Phase 2: bringing
in a Starbucks portable thermos. That fared better with fewer puzzled
looks. Afterwards, I realized that the
guy (a different guy) didn’t offer me a cup credit. Clearly, this was not a BYOC-friendly cafe.
Yet. All can be changed for the better.
Starbucks serves more than 2.3 billion cups per year. Last year, Starbucks introduced a new disposable cup containing 10% post-consumer recycled content. And recycled paper napkins. Hooray! But the remainder of the cup is still made from the dreaded 100 percent bleached virgin paperboard, i.e. that is a lot of trees being cut down. Point blank, we shouldn’t be cutting down something as important as a tree (needed for clean water, clean air, and carbon absorption) for a cup that we are going to through away in 5 minutes. It just doesn’t make sense.
Starbucks still has a corporate policy of requiring hot tea to be served in two nested cups. This is for liability reasons as they are afraid of being sued by people who might burn themselves. So if you are ordering tea, ask for one cup and a sleeve. Or better yet, BYOC of course.
To Starbucks who worries about their branding experience being tarnished by a
change in the cup feel, I say this. Your coffee, or rather chai latte, actually
tasted better in the tumbler. I was surprised too. So worry not, and let’s make those cups as
eco-friendly as the coffee. And please consider launching your own in-store BYOC promotion in the future.
Starbucks and other coffee shops have a great assortment of reusable mugs and tumblers. The next time you’re there, pick one up and create a daily green ritual. Here are two of my favorites, the Stainless Steel Trek Desktop Mug and the Stainless Steel Tumbler. You will be the eco-cool person in line. And don’t forget to ask for your cup credit, very important.
Visit Tully's Coffee which has a new 100% compostable paper Green Cup. It uses a corn-based lining and sustainable paper. Traditional paper cups use a non-biodegradable, petroleum-based lining. And Tully's is an official certified San Francisco Green Business and the most eco-friendly coffee shop around in Pacific Heights. Any place with a green and blue bin in the store is a friend of mine.