By Erich Rowe
The recent craze following California’s Straw Ban has led to companies and restaurants to take initiative. One of the pioneers in the plastic conservation movement is Starbucks, with their assertive push to remove straws from all their locations, rather than the passive way other restaurants do: by simply not offering unless asked. Taking steps to be environmentally conscience is not very business efficient, so seeing Starbucks in its position as one of the largest coffee shops in the world take a firm position within the Straw Ban and Plastic Conservation movement is a brave thing for a corporation to do, especially in a climate where every movement is attached to a political side, and plastic conservation potentially taking customers away that don’t think plastic conservation is necessary.
Lids that originally designed with perforations for the straw to be injected into, now have a new design with a lip on one end to sip without the straw, almost like the Starbucks engineers designed an adult sippy cup. Basically, Starbucks took the traditional design of a coffee cup that normally gets the hot coffee poured into it then transferred that same design to the clear cups that serve cold drinks in order to get people to drink without a straw.
Starbucks supplies incentives for cup reuse. This is done via the thick reusable cups available for purchase in the lines at every location. While this may sound like one way to upcharge a customer, it is also a way to reduce the waste they pull in customers who may be on the fence regarding the Straw Ban and waste conservation. There is a standard $0.10 discount if a customer brings their own cup or use Starbucks’ own reusable cups. To some this may not sound like enough of a deal to warrant bringing their own cup with them to Starbucks, but it takes more than one to make a change, and the consumer also has the responsibility to contribute to the conservation movement.
A major complaint against the removal of straws comes from women wearing makeup, claiming the lack of straws and drinking from the lid ruins their lipstick. This complaint is the epitome of first world problems. First world problems should not get in the way of saving the environment, because the first world is the main source of the issue to begin with.
The second complaint toward the removal of straws is more charismatic than beauty gurus complaining about their lipstick on lids. The concern is with the disabled community, as disabled individuals need straws to assist with drinking, and most reusable straws are metal and therefore are dangerous if bitten down on. However, as Starbucks places itself as the pioneer of change, it can also come up with a solution to this problem. Paper straws are an alternative to plastic straws that are safer for the disabled. Investing in paper straws can solve this issue, as they decompose faster than plastic. Just like normal supply and demand fluctuations, if Starbucks invests in normal paper straws and makes them a trend, production will increase making paper straws cheaper.
Ultimately, it’s a great thing Starbucks is taking a strong stance toward waste reduction, yet there is still more work to do. A lot of progress has been made, but it is on the side of the consumer to continue that progress so it can reach new heights. The reasons against Starbucks’ change are either first world problems, or real problems but with the real solution being overlooked.
Header photo from FoxNews.