Brand Focus: Starbucks

Howard Schultz is one of our idols.  We've read his book, listen to all interviews and shed a happy tear at the rumors about a potential presidential campaign.  He's essentially the male Oprah and can do no wrong. 

Schultz took an every day commodity, turned it into a luxury and created a beacon for the highly caffeinated. What's more impressive is his unwavering commitment to prioritizing people, community and the environment.  Initiatives like comprehensive healthcare benefits for both part- and full-time workers and even a tuition reimbursement for employees who work more than 20 hours are widely celebrated. Although Schultz recently stepped down from his helm at Starbucks, the ethos of Starbucks, to be a responsible corporate citizen, remains constant, as marked by the company's major announcement on Monday.  If you've yet to hear, Starbucks announced it's plans to eliminate plastic straws from its 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020.  We're pretty sure Adrien Grenier's TMZ spotlight was the swing vote. 

Sounds annoying for all you avid iced latte drinkers, right? Luckily, Starbucks created awesome little sippy cups instead which unlike straws, can be recycled.  AMEN!

According to Earth911.com in the United States, we use 500 million drinking straws each day.  Sounds overwhelming but that's only 1.6 straws per person a day.  Starbucks decision to cut out straws could mean a billion fewer plastic straws across it's stores each year. 

We do want to point out that the whole straw cause does have a devil's advocate. Some believe the current solution lies in waste collection and management.  They argue that if Starbucks really believed in the case, they would put their dollars behind that.  We acknowledge waste management is a real issue but we still believe Starbucks is doing the best within their grasp given the major standout fact that straws simply cannot be recycled.  The means those one billion straws contributed by Starbucks are either floating in our waterways when tossed, or if accidentally recycled costing cities millions of dollars to separate them.  Not any more. 

What's the deal with plastic straws anyway? Why can't they be recycled if the cup can be? Weird, we know. A little science lesson for you: straws are made of polypropylene, a highly recyclable - yes, HIGHLY RECYCLABLE - plastic. Unfortunately there are different types if polypropylene and it's hard for recyclers to detect the type, thus straws are rarely accepted. 

Since recycling straws is not an option, your best bet is to reduce straw use entirely. So, tell the restaurant to hold the straw when you order drinks or follow our lead as ex single-use straw users and buy a reusable one to bring with you EVERYWHERE.  We just learned about this one that doubles as a keychain.  And since you always have your keys, you'll always have your straw. 

In the words of Howard Schultz, "Don't do things the way they've always been done. Don't try to fit into the system. If you do what's expected of you, you'll never accomplish more than others expect."

Now go buy a reusable straw.