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Oct 21, 2008 09:05 AM

Going "green" or being sneaky cheap?

I just picked up a Starbuck's coffee and received my cup without the customary cardboard "sleeve". When I reminded the barista, I was informed that SB is going green so the customer now needs to request the sleeve.

As I drove away, I wondered if they are truly being ecologically friendly, which is plausible, or is it merely greed? Overall, it will no doubt save them big $$$, but are those savings being passed along to the customer by keeping the cost down (somehow I doubt it) or will the savings further line their own pockets?

Along this line, accolades to Market Street (DFW grocery owned/managed by United Supermarkets of Lubbock, TX) for truly being “green” and thanking their customers by crediting .05 for each reusable “green bag” that the customer supplies – thereby eliminating the use of store supplied plastic/paper sacks.

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  1. I get the same credit when I bring my own bags to Marsh, an Indiana supermarket chain. Honestly, I think that cutting costs are probably the prime motivator by Starbucks and the supermarkets. They get to lower their costs and customers get to feel good about reducing the amount of stuff they use. Plus, it's voluntary (SBUX isn't forcing one to go without the sleeve, after all). Sure, the companies are eyeing their own bottom line. But if it means being a bit more environmentally conscious/friendly, I can agree with this. Perhaps we as customers have been too conditioned to expect everything. Nothing wrong with carrying a few cloth bags!

    1. What surprises me is that she felt the need to explain herself. She might simply have just handed you the sleeve with a polite "Have a nice day."

      As for their motives, it is probably a bit of both. They've shut down stores, so obviously are interested in ways to improve their bottom line. But I imagine they've examined a number of proposals for ways to do this, and when someone suggested this one, they perhaps had a lightbulb moment and said "Aha! And it's also green!" If anything, the savings will probably prevent them from having to increase prices or close more stores.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Cachetes

        they probably made her tell the customer.

      2. I don't think too much thought needs to be devoted to their motives. I think it is for the company one of those win-win situations. Yes they can save money by not automatically distributing the sleeve but in doing so they can make a claim toward environmental friendliness thereby giving them kudos for caring about trees and the like and assuaging any guilt the patrons might feel at purchasing coffee from starbucks which as far as I know (its been a looong time since I went to one) doesn't source eco or fairtrade coffee.

        Its what is described as picking the 'low hanging fruit' of environmental action. That is the change is easy, painless and cheap - far cheaper than source renewable energy for their store or harvesting their own rainwater etc - but it still has a positive environmental effect.

        1 Reply
        1. re: irisav

          You are incorrect regarding how they source their coffee. Go to their website to learn all about it.

        2. The subject title was very generic. In the subject body, I cited 2 companies. Interestingly, all but one person has focused only on Starbucks – which frankly I could care less about, one way or the other - Starbucks, that is.

          That being said, I believe the point of the topic question has been rationalized with respect to Starbucks.........

          1. For either business or similar businesses, I don't personally care about their motives: the end result is clear in both cases - the environment is helped as resources are not used (cup sleeves and paper or plastic bags), the stores all do better in terms of their bottom lines (the grocery store isn't going to give out the nickle per bag unless it still made financial sense for them to do so) and I have less stuff to throw out/recycle.

            Most of the coffee shops I go to (including local Starbucks) give a discount for bringing my own cup (my cup is about a Starbucks "grande" size but they charge me for a "tall") and the grocery stores (some chain and some local) all give the nickle per bag.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ccbweb

              Geez, not here in Toronto. The "cheap" grocery stores, like No Frills and Price Chopper, charge you a nickel for bags. Other, more expensive chains, like Loblaws and Dominion, give you free bags, and bag for you, but you pay for it in the price of goods. For example, Loblaws and No Frills both have the same parent. The exact same carton of coleslaw was $1.29 at No Frills, and $1.99 at Loblaws. Nowadays, I bring my backpack, although that kind of limits what you can buy.

              1. re: KevinB

                At Loblaws if you bring in a reusable Loblaws bag they give you points on your card. Same deal with No Frills.