Flash Mob: Starbucks

I go to Starbucks almost every week. Not because I particularly love their products or their brand, but because it’s a nice shop in a central location where I can get comfortable and enjoy time with my friends who come and knit with me on Sunday mornings.

I almost always (except those darn forgetful days) bring my own cup and order a tall shaken green iced tea, my favorite drink (unless you count the green tea frappucino, a delightful indulgence). And while sipping my tea, sans disposable straw, I always look around and see that everyone else in the shop is drinking from a disposable cup.

The question is: Why? Why don’t the baristas ask, “For here or to go?” like many other restaurants? Why aren’t in-store customers given nice ceramic mugs or glass cups to drink from? Why do we have to bring our own cups if we are going to stay in the store and want to avoid disposables?

In this day and age, this shouldn’t even be an issue. I have thought of it for a while now, but after seeing this post at My Plastic-Free Life and this one at EcoYogini, I realized it was time to stop thinking about it and start doing something.

My first step was writing a letter to Starbucks about their disposable cups. Why, I asked, aren’t in-store customers offered reusable cups? Why are disposable cups the default? I was pleasantly surprised to find this response a day later:

Hello Y.L.,

Thank you for letting us know about the waste in the store. Hearing feedback straight from our customers is invaluable. I will be forwarding your comments on to the appropriate department here, as well as the management of the store to make sure that the appropriate actions are taken to address this issue.

Thanks again for letting us know and giving us the opportunity to improve something in our stores.


Nick D

customer service

Then I got on Twitter and wrote them again, encouraging them to please offer reusable cups to all in-store customers. And that’s when it occurred to me: F L A S H   M O B. I think it can be intimidating for people to see a link to a customer service contact page and think about how to compose a letter to a company. And then it just doesn’t get done. BUT – it sure is easy to drop in to a Facebook fan page or Twitter page and leave a quick note. Something like, “Hey, please offer your in-store customers reusable cups instead of defaulting to disposables!” See. Super easy, right?

So please join me this week and let’s flash mob Starbucks! Drop a quick note to them on Twitter (hashtag #starbuckslesswaste) and on Facebook and tell them what you’d like to see. (For you Canadians, the FB page is Starbucks Canada and the Twitter page is @StarbucksCanada.) Be kind and respectful and supportive and show them that their commitment to greener business practices will bring in a whole slew of loyal customers who want to see businesses take waste reduction seriously.

Ready, set, GO!

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31 thoughts on “Flash Mob: Starbucks

  1. great idea. I have also wondered..what if the disposable cups (the plastic cold cups?) were at least of the compostable variety/!!???? Some other small juice/coffee stands in our Portland, neighborhood offer these. And if small businesses can afford to do it..then Starbucks could!

    • @TaraW: Yeah, you guys are WAY ahead of us! LOL. They should absolutely do that. I think those cups require “commercial composting,” but like you said – Starbucks could and should separate those and have them taken to the proper facility. I do have a slight worry about compostable cups, etc., since they still send the message, “Hey, you can throw this away and it’ll still break down.” There’s still something vaguely “disposable” about the whole thing and how many people realize what is exactly required to compost these items…? Anyway, just babbling! Compostable is better than what we have now in Redmond, at least!

  2. All the Starbucks I’ve been to do here in Portland have actual mugs, you just have to ask for them when you order. They should offer it as well, but don’t. It’s kind of like the Short size of coffee (as drinks on the board start at Tall) – it still exists, it’s just not on the menu. :)

    • @EcoGrrl: Oh, Portland! So awesome! I think we might have mugs, too, but you sure wouldn’t know it! I NEVER see anyone ask for them and it never occurred to me to do so, either. They definitely should ask!!

  3. Thanks for bringing this up! It always bothers me that Starbucks is still choosing the environmentally UNfriendly way to serve drinks. I’d love to see recycling bins located in their stores, as well. I end up taking home all that packaging (and grabbing friends’ stuff, too) and recycling it myself. I just posted on Starbucks’ Facebook wall, and saw a few other Flash Mob posts there, too (yay!). My local indie coffee joint uses real mugs and plates; why can’t the ‘Bux?

  4. I admire your initiative Yancy!
    I saw this post link on several walls on FB, including Beth’s and a green group I belong to. Congrats!

    I often cringe when coffee shops refuse to fill my travel mug, including some Starbucks – not all are owned by Starbucks so some do fill it – so hopefully this campaign will reach the HQ once again so they can revisit the policy.

    I RT’d and shared too! Let’s do it!

  5. What a nice and meaningful gesture!! Do they use disposable cups too in Canada? I rarely (read never) go to this place, I once worked in a Dunkin’ Donuts when I was young and had ceramic cups for the staying customers….

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