Sins of Starbucks

starbucks ya

On their website Starbucks states, “As a company that relies on agricultural products, we have long been aware that the planet is our most important business partner.” They have several claims about everything they are doing to help the environment. One of their claims says, “We’re working to shrink our environmental footprint and meet the expectations of our customers by increasing recycling, promoting reusable cups and reducing the waste associated with our cups and other packaging.” This is an example of the sin of lesser of two evils and of hidden trade off. While it may be true that Starbucks is selling reusable cups, they are selling those cups for $1 and the cups are designed to only last for ONE month. What does that create? More garbage. Yes, Starbucks is recycling, woohoo, but that still doesn’t take away from the millions of pounds of waste they create and the energy and resources used to create these cups in the first place.

For water and energy conservation, Starbucks says, “By conserving the energy and water we use and purchasing renewable energy credits, we’re pushing ourselves to reduce the environmental footprint of our operations and help ensure access to clean water in coffee-growing communities.” This is an example of the sin of irrelevance. Previously, Starbucks had a leave the tap water running policy, which wasted 23 million liters of water every day. They only changed their policy after they were sued.

Starbucks has also created a campaign about their free trade initiative. This is the sin of vagueness. While Starbucks does have a free trade agreement, it has been proven that only a very small percent of their coffee is actually free trade.

It seems that companies can create green advertisements practically based off of nothing. Unfortunately, today the aim is to create green products solely as a way to get people to purchase them. The focus needs to change to creating green products in order to protect our environment and our planet. This drive towards consumption has to change.

Megan DeBanto


7 thoughts on “Sins of Starbucks

  1. I agree with your post, Starbucks offers a great variety of drinks at a costly price. The cost is supposed to go towards coffee bean farmers so they get a fair value for what they harvest. Starbucks is creating garbage with their $1 reusable cup’s … for a whole month.. “wow”.

    Joseph Hu


  2. I agree with you. I work at Starbucks and the only time we are told to up-sell reusable cups and personal mugs are during holiday seasons, when Starbucks will make the most money. Any other time of the year, my store barely gets enough inventory of personal mugs to be able to sell. Also, the stores are not even made to recycle, even though Starbucks claims to be a green company.

    Gretchen Marie Semancik


  3. I find it interesting that you chose Starbucks as your greenwashing company because I was honestly walking around campus earlier this morning noticing just how many people drink Starbucks on a daily basis. It is crazy to me that even with how relatively small our campus is, there are two Starbucks on campus alone and one less than a quarter mile out. Also, it is pretty hypocritical for Starbucks to claim eco-friendliness simply because they offer reusable cups. For starters, they did not invent the coffee mug. Secondly, a large part of their marketing campaign is the continual release of different designs on their non-reusable cups. The religious controversy over this season’s design is still a huge topic in the news over a week later! Lastly, it is pretty absurd that in 2015 a company can brag about the fact that they offer recyclable cups. At this point, it should pretty much be a national standard that paper coffee cups are recyclable.

    -Jordan Cotleur

    Here’s a link to the Starbucks red cup controversy if you haven’t heard yet (which is probably nearly impossible at this point.)


  4. I agree with your point. I like how you mentioned the Starbucks “leave the tap water running policy” and that they only stopped doing it once they were sued. I think a lot of companies do similar things to make themselves seem like they are being “green,” but it really is all such an act. I think in today’s world it is hard to decipher what is really natural, organic, pure, etc. and what is not since we are constantly being lied to from companies like Starbucks.

    -Shelby Scholl


  5. It’s amazing to me that Starbucks can market itself as a green company when they only have recycling bins in about half of their stores, and both their plastic and paper cups are extremely difficult to recycle in many places. There are many simple steps Starbucks could take to solve these problems, and the fact that they aren’t making recycling a priority says a lot about their company.

    Jessica Daniels


  6. I have never heard of the “leave the tap running” policy for a company and I’m a little confused why they would enforce that in the first place. That is just a blatant waste of resources. It really seems like large companies will say anything in order to sell you their product.

    John Casnellie


  7. I agree that starbucks as whole gives off a green image. The stores use earth tones and furniture that is meant to look authentic even thought it is not. Also, their different coffee blends hint at that their coffee is the carefully selected.

    Louise Hyneman


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