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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Coffee Crisis

Okay, the first challenge has come to my attention and needs to be discussed... Immediately!
Those of you who know me, know that I love coffee and in particular, Starbucks coffee. To be even more precise, I am a sucker for a soy latte and yes, I regularly pay the almost $5 charge for one of these decadent beverages at least three or four times per week. I know, I know, it is an expensive habit to be sure.

So, given the new 'rules' that I am attempting to live by, I am wondering what exactly to do about my coffee habit. It is not an option to give up coffee (I did that for my entire pregnancy and I consider that enough of a personal sacrifice for one lifetime!), and plus, I vowed that I wouldn't be doing anything 'rash' to prove that most people could follow a plan like this one as well. I am wondering if it is better to continue on with the Starbucks obsession (although possibly switching to regular coffee/tea drinks and of course, bringing in my own cup), or would it be more in line with my goals to switch to a local coffee vendor in the area? It seems like a simple response, until you consider that I am trying to balance the best environmental decision with trying to buy from local business owners. The way I see it, Starbucks has a lot more funding to ensure that they are an environmentally responsible company than local mom-and-pop shop would. Therein lies my dilemma (I guess that 'crisis' might be a bit strong to describe this situation).

So, the way I see it, I have three possible options:

  • Continue on drinking and enjoying delicious Starbucks beverages, while ensuring that I use my own cup every time.
  • Purchase my coffee at Starbucks except limit myself to only regular coffee and tea (while, again, bringing my own cup)
  • Switch to local businesses only (and yes, bringing my own cup along for the ride once more)

I would actually like to know what YOU think about this dilemma and I have decided to 'poll the audience' and live by the decision that is made. You have until Wednesday, January 20, 2010 to weigh in, so do it, do it, do it! I desperately need/want your input on this one, so let me know what you think!

Here are a few resources to help you make your decision:

This article discusses how Starbucks is falling down on their environmental efforts due to their use of non-recyclable paper cups. However, the article does go on to discuss how Starbucks is a corporate leader in making good environmental decisions.

The Starbucks mission statement, including their environmental mission statement. Check our their link 'global responsibility' as well for more information.

Because Wikipedia knows EVERYTHING! Check out the information here - there is a lot of it. They are certainly not perfect, but they are trying, which is more than I can say for a lot of other big chains.

Okay, let me know the verdict and happy reading!

Marebear :)


  1. Hi Mare!

    First of all I want to commend you for doing something like this, which can ultimately be life-changing in ways that you did not expect (as I've heard from others, not my own journey!) I thought I would put in my 2 cents on this dilemna of yours....

    I can see how many others voted for the choice I made, and I want to suggest a couple of things that you could incorporate into your choices. One, of course, would be to minimize your Starbucks trips, maybe cutting down to half or less of your usual visits, then frequenting the local places for the other trips. Two, (this is something I have started and am enjoying the rewards) -- does Starbucks have gift cards and that sort? I have people in my life who absolutely HAVE to buy me gifts on occasion, and I am training them to buy me gift cards for places like Tim Hortons (because I am a sucker for their English Toffee cappuccino), that way I can enjoy my indulgence with my gift cards, and not go over my gift amount unless I choose to. And with this suggestion one could also bring their own cup if they so choose. Option #3 that I was thinking of is this: does Starbucks have anything like the "make-at-home" tins of their coffees you can get and make at home? My indulgent hubby has purchased these tins from Tim Hortons for me in the past, so not sure if this saves you money or not, but it might be an option you could check into. I'm not too sure of Starbucks operations, so they might not even have that choice, especially for a probably less common choice of your soy latte (not that I know how common it would be LOL).

    Anyhow, that's just my ramblings, was just thinking that I could see more options than the three you asked people to vote with, so it was hard for me to make a selection without voicing my thoughts! Have fun with your decision!

  2. I thought the point here was to save money?
    So if you spend $20/week now you should be able to do whatever you want as long as you reduce your costs. If you want to buy 4 regular starbucks coffee's for $2, or 2 latte's for $5 then both are acceptable options. Don't give up what you enjoy, just enjoy less of it.

  3. Hey Mare, (bare) (lol I love that)

    I commend you for your plans to live with a little less this year. I think that there are a number of environmental issues surrounding coffee consumption that stretch far beyond the cup used. I could hop right up on a soapbox (you know I’m quite comfortable there), but Ill spare everyone that. Short of dropping the habit all together: my vote: Local Shop all the way. If you can find a locally owned place that serves up Fair Trade and Organic beans, that would be ideal. I think that the other options don’t really fit with what you are attempting to do. (Just my two cents)
    PS- Nice work on the living with less meat. (sorry Trenty)You likely know that most average North Americans eat almost twice the ‘needed’ amount of protein each day. We started a few years ago eating about 60% of our meals ‘meatlessly’, and have somehow worked our way to eating 99% Vegan, the slow transition didn’t feel like deprivation, just a natural progression, and a lesson in experimentation (and VERY easy on the pocketbook). Now, when we consume animal products they are primarily local, and organic.
    PPS- I hear you on the grocery store front. I’m not sure what is available in your area; we get an organic produce bin that we pick up weekly from a locally owned shop. Customers have the option to place their order online to add any type of household/grocery item that the shop carriers to the bin. The little shop has every necessity and then some, but not much of the impulse stuff (like magazines or sparkly new thermal cups). They bring in as much Saskatchewan organic produce as the growing season allows, and supplements with first Canadian produce, then North American, etc, and they pack within a budget chosen by the client. A customer can even add diapers, TP, local organic meats, you name it.) This way, I avoid the tempting lure of the impulse at the big box stores, and as someone with long term ‘Shopaholism’, the bin has been a lifesaver! Small local or specially grocers, and farmers markets tend to have far less in the way of ‘off the list’ temptation. I took a ‘moonlighting’ job a few years back for just a few hours a week (3-8) at the place that provides our bin, that way I make a little extra $ to cover the often more expensive organics, get a staff discount on my groceries, input on what is brought in AND first crack at the items deemed not quite shiny enough for sale! Win win win win.
    Good luck with your challenge, I think you will enjoy it!

    Voting with her dollars,

  4. Maren,

    I would have to support the local coffee also for the reason of supporting the local vendor rather than the large chains. This does get complicated though as I think Starbucks are like Second Cup and each one is a franchise owned and operated by local entrepreneurs. Now what do you do? I think one also has to keep in mind that coffee stops such as these have to be done en route to other commitments and taking a larger detour to hit the Bucks or a local shop might defeat the intent of the general goal. I thinking making coffee at home still makes the most sense (time, gas and money wise).

    Good luck!

  5. I agree with my husband. :)
    I think the best option is buying supplies for making at home. Second best option (because not making it is a huge part of the treat) is buying less often with your own cup. I don't know if buying local really makes that big of a difference... it depends what you are trying to achieve. Some local, inde, coffee shops take a lot of effort in the environmental department. When it comes down to it, coffee beans aren't local. :)
    Maybe the absolute best option (but maybe too extreme) is buying locally made tea and making it at home. Milk has a huge impact on the environment...
    I appreciate that you aren't wanting to go too extreme with this to keep it doable. It might be interesting to go extreme in a few cases during your challenge to see what you come up with and how you experience the more "extreme" challenges.

  6. Here were the results of the poll:

    29 people voted. 21 said 'go local', 5 said 'cut back', 3 said 'keep at it'.