While Starbucks is a beloved place on the Geneseo campus, there are many issues with the larger corporate structure of the café. Starbucks is not responsible when it comes to sustainability.
When it comes to its coffee, Starbucks aims to “offer 100 percent ethically sourced coffee,” according to Starbucks’ website. That being said, Starbuck’s definition of “ethically sourced” is unclear and not equivalent to that of fair trade coffee, which ensures no slave labor is used in its production.
The company’s track record has not reflected a large commitment to finding and utilizing fair trade coffee, which has become common in the industry; additionally, “according to the company’s own global impact report, only 8.4 percent of the company’s coffee purchases in 2013 were certified fair trade,” as reported by Organic Consumers.
In addition to social responsibility, it seems Starbucks relies on its popular brand name to sell its product, and does not take environmental awareness seriously.
For claiming to be an industry leader in sustainability, it is shocking that Starbucks does not yet have recycling bins in all of their locations—only 39 percent offer the option, according to Business Insider.
Recycling bins are crucial in a worldwide chain such as Starbucks because they provide a place for consumers to responsibly dispose of waste as well as reduce littering bolstered by the lack of proper disposal areas. Due to Starbucks’ popularity, this small change could make a huge impact on the environment if the business incorporated the sustainability practices it claims to uphold.
Starbucks hopes to “double the recycled content, the recyclability and the reusability of [their] cup by 2022,” according to the Starbucks Global Responsibility 2016 Report. While this is commendable, more should be done in the short term to decrease the waste produced by the mass coffee chain.
Students should acknowledge this lack of awareness highlighted by Starbucks and opt for fair trade coffee, which is provided in other places on-campus such as Milne Library. Furthermore, when purchasing coffee products from Starbucks, we must recycle after buying plastic or paper cups or bring reusable cups to cut down on waste.
In addition, littering our campus with order stickers, coffee sleeves and food wrappers is unacceptable. As much as the blame falls on Starbucks for utilizing non-eco-friendly products, it is our obligation to decrease that negative environmental impact at our own Starbucks location.
Overall, large-scale coffee companies must be penalized by consumers for not utilizing fair trade products and not exercising concern for their waste imprint. As students, it is essential to make our concerns heard and hold ourselves accountable when supporting such brands.