Don't get me wrong, I love the Fair Trade organic coffee we buy in bulk and grind fresh daily in the office kitchen. In fact, I am not ready to start my day at Reuseit without it. But once a week—usually Wednesday or Thursday when I start to run out of steam—I head to Starbucks for a pick-me-up.
Working at Reuseit I've learned a few easy ways to make my weekly treat more environmentally responsible, and today, being a chilly morning in Chicago, I thought I'd share them.
First (and most obviously), bring your own mug! I like stainless steel because it keeps my coffee hot, but I see lots of people using the I Am Not A Paper Cup because it looks so much like a Starbucks cup. You can use the same mugs for iced drinks. The barista should knock a few cents off your drink every time you bring your own mug, too.
Speaking of iced drinks, I have two tips for you. One: bring your own straw. It might not seem like a big waste when you look at the unassuming little straw in your cup, but, if I'm going to Starbucks once a week, every week, all year long, that's at least 52 plastic straws a year I'm throwing away. (Not to mention all the paper they come wrapped in.) Again, I like stainless steel straws, but glass is a fancy alternative.
My second piece of advice for cold drinks is if you have to take a disposable cup, reuse it. Not to drink from again, necessarily, but upcycle those plastic cups into something new. In fact, there is an entire website called Starbucks Garden 100%, dedicated to ways you can reuse your coffee cups to grow your own food.
I love sweets, and there are lots of them in the pastry case at Starbucks. I easily avoid taking a paper bag I don't really need by asking my barista to place my danish in a reusable sandwich bag. They do kind of think you're nuts at first, but it's a good way to get other people in line thinking about whether or not they really need to throw away so many paper bags every week as well. With my reusable napkin (which really doesn't get very dirty, so I take it home once a week to wash with my other laundry), my mug, straw and sandwich bag I can enjoy waste-free visits to Starbucks every week.
At the cream and sugar counter, I opt for sweeteners I can shake out of a larger container as opposed to ones that come in a disposable package, and I walk out full of caffeine and feeling pretty smart.
I'll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite blogs, Green Starbucks:
"'If only 50 customers a day in every store were to use reusable mugs, Starbucks would save 150,000 disposable paper cups daily. This equals 1.7 million pounds of paper, 3.7 million pounds of solid waste, and 150,000 trees a year.' In 2000 when this report was generated there were only 6500 stores worldwide. In 2007 there are 13,168 stores which means over 300,000 trees could be saved from landfills by BRINGING YOUR OWN CUP."