While on a coffee run I noticed, as I stood by the counter awaiting my Grande Vanilla Latte, that many coffee-goers were taking trays which are intended to provide convenience to those customers ordering more than two drinks. 

These customers had exactly two coffees in their tray, freeing up a hand so they could (of course) text on their cell phones. While I’m all for texting, I think the last time I checked, our planet was in danger of becoming a garbage heap. No thanks to wastefulness like this of course…

However, as irritating as people’s little habits are, I did notice some good that Starbucks is initiating, getting people to step up and take accountability for their planet, and their coffee. 

What is Shared Planet?

Starbucks Shared Planet is a business commitment to the environment. This means that Starbucks will work to make green changes within their business practices, from they way they buy their coffee, to how their stores are developed and run, and even ensuring they have a presence within their communities.

The Coffee

We’ve always known that coffee comes from nature, and Starbucks is realizing this, too. They are making a point to buy Ethically Traded Coffee, which means that farmers receive a fair payment for their product, and the coffee bean is grown in an environmentally responsible way.

Conservation International has also paired up with Starbucks to develop their buying guidelines for socially, environmentally, and economically responsible coffee, and also developing a new climate change initiative which takes conservation beyond the coffee farm and into the surrounding communities and landscapes of the growers.

The support for these coffee farmers goes even further with Starbucks Farmer Support Centres which are operating within Costa Rica and eventually Ethiopia.

The Cup Stops Here

Within the store, Starbucks is committed to delivering the consumer their coffee, but it comes at a price. Ten cents will be knocked off everyone’s favourite drink, but only if they come in with their own reusable mug.

This program is being used within every Starbucks location so go get your (reusable) fill!

Speaking of cups, if you have forgotten your travel mug at home, by 2015, Starbucks is planning on having 100 percent of their cups be reusable or recyclable, which will be a huge contribution to keeping the planet green since the majority of Starbucks products come in a cup.

Also at store level comes their recycling program. This is shown to be consumers’ biggest concern when they are inside a Starbucks, and probably the most obvious. Within the next five years, Starbucks aims to have recycling available within 100 percent of their stores where they control the waste, something every major company should take into consideration, don’t you think?

To explore a green Starbucks store and get a tour of their innovative features check out: starbucks.com/sharedplanet

Within The Community

During a recession community involvement often wanes- but not for Starbucks. The company’s partners and customers in United States and Canada volunteered 245,000 hours of community service in 2008, and their goal has been increased to volunteer 1 million hours by 2015. Starbucks online social network, V2V (Volunteer to Volunteer) helps connect volunteers all over the world to make a difference in their communities. Check out v2v.net/starbucks to find out more.

To see more about the Shared Planet initiative visit:  starbucks.com/sharedplanet

Image courtesy of elephantjournal.com

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