Ditching plastic, ditching Starbucks

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to decrease the amount of plastic I use. I’ve been a careful recycler for a long time, but I wanted to figure out small steps I could take to up what I was doing.

Step 1: Plastic straws

I am that person who puts a straw in hot coffee. This was a logical first step. In January I ordered reusable straws. They’ve been great and there is another that I can carry some with me even if something is at home in the drying rack still.

I feel like this step is mission accomplished.

Step 2: Disposable coffee cups

I was getting coffee on my way to work enough that I felt I needed to get something reusable. And if I had something insulated it would also mean I could take my own coffee from home, save money, and fingers crossed, it wouldn’t get cold while waiting for the train, like it was in the coffee cups I had. It turns out not only will coffee get cold fast when it’s 9˚ outside but if you spill its looks like a slushy immediately.

I have two I managed to snag for free. I immediately learned the hard way tea is not easy to drink from them though. The metal rim of the cup plus the extremely high heat the tea is served at Starbucks is a problem. I don’t love the idea of drink tea through a straw either. That seems wrong.

I’m stilling figuring out if I have the right cups, but at least I have something that keeps coffee warm, and I’m down a paper cup and plastic lid when getting coffee out.

Step 3: Plasticware

I realized this recently. Eating out a few places where I needed plastic silverware. It’s also been something I’ve been dealing with at work. The solution there is to bring in a spoon, knife, and fork, because will I really miss one of each at home? Probably not. I recently bought a set of bamboo cutlery, that, just like my straws I would have on me when I need it.

The problem:

I left home in a hurry the other day with none of these things on me. I went to Starbucks where I was working from for several hours and had coffee and yogurt. Cup, lid, no straw this time because I didn’t have one, plastic all over the yogurt, and a spoon, wrapped in plastic.

Have you bought one of their muffins or a piece of banana bread? They take it out of an individual plastic wrapper and put it in a paper bag.

Here’s what I have liked about Starbucks:

  • The convenience
  • The mobile order app
  • The stars  I started using a card in grad school and within a month was a gold star holder. I have never gotten a refill there – mostly because they charge for adding almond milk in again.

Here’s what I don’t like:

  • Along the way, they stopped giving you a mug or plate when you stay.
  • They perpetuate the one use plastic issue. Great – you’re getting rid of straws. What about those things you put in the drink hole to hold in the coffee?
  • All the extras they now have that appear as health food but aren’t.
  • All the non-dairy milk options but nothing is gluten-free.

The crazy amount of plastic and other trash that is generated from Starbucks was recently pointed out to me and now I notice nothing else. And their solution to ditching straws actually uses more plastic.

Last year one of my resolutions was to shop more local and less from big chains or from Amazon. I’ve done okay with that. I usually do birthday and Christmas shopping in my neighborhood for family and friends. I’ve not been good about coffee shops and I frequent them a lot. So I’m adding that to my resolution this year to reduce plastic use: focus on local places because they tend to use real dishes when you eat there and are conscious of the impact they have on the environment with plastic and paper, and disposable everything.

What are you doing to ditch plastic? How else are you changing your habits to impact the environment?


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