December 1, 2010

The Jolly Green Giant

I wrote, not so long ago, about my ceramic travel mug, and my affection for it. To recycle my material a bit: It keeps drinks hot, has a neutral taste, and doesn't contribute to landfills.

But speaking of recycling... Starbucks is doing just that with its paper cups.

Or at least, the company is looking to move in that direction. This is laudable, of course. I say that like it's obvious, because it strikes me as such; but this is not to say that everyone will agree.

Recycling, if I may quote the first commenter on the article linked above, is seen by some as "the salve of faux environmentalism". Basically, while it makes sense on some intuitive level that recycling would benefit the environment and save trees/money/etc., the evidence to support that position is a tad wanting. In fact, if you're willing to look a bit, you can find evidence to suggest that recycling of many materials - paper included - may in fact be more wasteful than producing new products altogether.

This is a debate I don't fully grasp, so I won't pretend to. Instead, I will default to what seems to be something like a popular consensus. (Granted, that's often not a wise thing to do.) I will say that Starbucks is, at the very least, to be commended for taking a step in what the company perceives to be the right direction.

Cynicism is easy - especially when directed at such a popular target as Starbucks. But cynicism is also, just as frequently, too easy. That is, when dealing with large corporations, one can levy all manner of critiques, can demean any apparent attempts at benevolence as empty gestures or token consolations. But that is not to say that one should do so.

So yes, I will say that Starbucks is doing the right thing here. Or at the very least, it's trying to.

I will also say that the barista pictured above the linked article is wearing a shirt I'm pretty sure I own, and that the skinny white tie is a very nice touch. Mostly, I'm disappointed that it never occurred to me to try something similar. I suppose there's a reason I blog about coffee, and not fashion.

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