Does bringing your own mug help?


A couple of days ago, I went into a Starbucks and ordered a drink. I brought my own coffee thermos (yay!) and they took 10 cents off the order for “saving” them a cup. As I watched them make my drink, I noticed that they used to paper cup to measure the correct amount, and thereafter poured the contents of that cup into my thermos and then disposed of that paper cup into the trash can. I was appalled! Here I’m trying to save a paper cup by bringing my own mug, yet they used one and disposed of it anyway! Have you ever noticed this? Some coffee shops, other than Starbucks, don’t waste paper cups to measure amounts, but what do you think of this? Is Starbucks being ironic? Should I just find a different place to get my coffee from? (Probably.) Has this ever happened to any of you before, or have you ever noticed it happening?

– Roxy

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8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    shermanj said,

    Wow, Roxy, I must say I am shocked to hear that Starbucks measured out the contents in a paper cup and then threw it away, before emptying everything into your re-useable cup. That’s horrible! Also, I am shocked that you only get a ten cent discount… it seems like it used to be more and also should be more. I am working with Director of Community Environment Services at Portland State and she told me that they recently did a trash audit of a number of public garbage cans in Downtown Portland. They would go, empty the garbage cans, take all the contents to a warehouse somewhere, and sort everything that they found into different categories. What was the number one item they found? Paper coffee cups and it led by a significant amount.

    Saving ten cents is not enough of a reward for those who bring their cups, or, looking at it from another view, paying an extra ten cents is not enough to get people to bring their own cups. Right now I am working on my research project about why people do and do not use the water bottle refilling stations at Portland State. Preliminary results show that people tend to use them not because they help save the environment or are more sustainable, but because they are easy and convenient. If Starbucks wants to up its “green” cred, they should think about how to make bringing your own coffee cup easy and convenient. To me, the answer lies in higher savings at the register.

    – Jacob

    • 2

      logantaylor said,

      I used to go in with a permanent mug to a Starbucks in my old town. They never did that but I have definitely seen it up here. I think that it has to do with the amount of people who come in with refillable cups. The employees are probably told to make sure they only give you what you pay for. Businesses are all about profit and not using the cup definitely saves them money, but unlike soda, coffee isn’t near as cheap, so its probably more important that they don’t give you a lot more coffee than you would get if you just paid for a 16oz in a paper cup.

  2. 3

    roxybarton said,

    Yes I completely agree with you. Say Starbucks gave a $1 discount for bringing your own cup… that’s much more of an incentive to bring your own mug. I know that on teas, if you bring a cup you had from earlier the same day you can get a refill for 50 cents and I believe it might be 50 cents for a refill on black coffee too.

    As for the water bottle refilling stations, I definitely use them because they are convenient and free. I don’t believe in buying bottled water… water is a resource for everyone, its a born right and we shouldn’t have to pay Nestle or Dasani to drink it.

  3. 4

    shotahioki said,

    I am not too much of a coffee drinker and therefore do not go to Starbucks at all, but that is a disturbing scene to see. I wonder how they would respond if you asked them why they threw the measuring cup away when you had initially come in with your own cup to save a paper cup.

    As for a substitute for Starbucks or any other instant coffee shops, I don’t see why you can’t just brew it at home and bring it in a thermos or something. I know that it is convenient but it does cost you an emense amount of money annually. Sure time is a factor, but then you can make instant coffee at home too, right?

    About the water, I totally agree with Roxy. I definitely use it daily and it is very convenient on top of the money and resources saved.

    – Shota

  4. 5

    konaka237 said,

    It continues to shock me every day listening to stories about people’s negligence to the world around them. I don’t drink coffee myself but I do drink tea which thankfully the tea-houses in Portland are designed around sitting with a pot of tea and conversing with a friend. Have you tried Stumptown coffee? I hear their coffee is the best, and because it’s a local business, I’m sure they are more savvy about being green. I have the same complaints about certain super-markets who don’t ask you if you need a bag for one item and automatically put it into a plastic handle bag before you even have a chance to utter a word. But when you take your item out of the bag to put into your own bag, they just simply grab it and throw it away. The travesty! I really don’t understand those people’s mentality!
    -Anne-Marie

  5. 6

    roxybarton said,

    Shota – I actually bought this mocha mix from Starbucks and have been brewing my own coffee at home now. Problem is, its usually gone by the time I get to school, since I take the max. But my coffee just tastes so much better when I make it myself. And I save a paper cup!

  6. 7

    gullett23 said,

    I would have said something, just to see what they thought about it. I was noticing that my garbage at home was mostly coffee cups, so I switched to a travel mug. I was so use to drinking it from the paper cup that I didn’t like drinking from the plastic cups ( I always got it all over me). I now save all the paper cups from Starbucks and drink my own home brew from them, because its the next best thing to a mug. I cant always take my mug with me so I use old coffee cups.
    R. Gullett

  7. 8

    king del rosario said,

    The Green Smiley is all smiles because of the Pro-Environment efforts by Starbucks through its local operator, Rustan Coffee Corporation. In fact, The Green Smiley’s soon-to-be-ubiquitous “smile of approval” can be seen in Community Billboards inside Starbucks branches all over the Philippines.

    Check out http://greensmiley.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/starbucks-save-a-cup-save-the-world/


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