Mixed Messages

“One person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” This is the mission statement of the most popular coffee spot on campus, Starbucks. A corporation that claims to “Lead in Green Retail” by being “committed to minimizing our environmental footprint and inspiring others to do the same.”

Starbucks did take a big step in leading green retail. By introducing their new and improved lid, the coffee corporation began reducing the need for billions of plastic straws. However, what most students do not know is the inability to recycle these globally friendly cups that are purchased and thrown away hundreds of times daily.

This is seen by students as highly hypocritical and counterproductive of Starbucks, especially in a time when being green is more important than ever. If they pride themselves on minimizing their environmental footprint, they sure are leaving a large one on our campus by using a number 7 plastic on a campus that cannot recycle it. A number 7 plastic is categorized as a variety of plastics that include BPA, Polycarbonate, and LEXAN.

With certain cups and bottles being recyclable on campus while others are not, unnecessary confusion is also being added to a seemingly simple action. If an item fits the description for the recycling bin, then you throw it in. When people begin having to delve into the specific types of plastic and if the campus even recycles it, people may just stop putting in the effort.

Using a universally recyclable plastic, such as plastics 1 or 2, that can be recycled on campus would not only be the better option for Keene State, but a better option for Starbucks. However, the issue goes both ways. It all comes down to money. For Starbucks, it costs more to create cups out of universal recyclable plastics 1 or 2. For Keene State, it costs more to recycle plastics 5 through 7 because they are often shipped out to the midwest. Although Keene State is a school that prides itself on sustainability, doing right by the environment is not always the most cost-effective option. If we want to make not only our campus but the rest of the world a better place, these sacrifices need to be made.

At the end of the day, all plastic is not great for the environment. By using a reusable cup at Starbucks, not only are you cutting back on the amount of plastic you are putting out into the world, but Starbucks also offers a discount for those who bring their own cup. This option will make both your wallet and the environment happy.

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