From Energy Priorities via GreenBiz, a report on Starbucks Coffee Company’s commitment to purchase green tags from 3 Phases Energy to offset “5% of the kilowatt hours used in 6,376 company-owned stores in North America. The commitment puts the company in the EPA’s top 25 U.S. purchasers of renewable energy.”
I’ll admit that I go to Starbucks on occasion. While I like the atmosphere of nearby local coffee shops better (two of my favories are Mokabee’s and the Thurman Community Cafe’), Starbucks is often located in other neighborhoods I frequent, and their commitment to social and environmental responsibility is part of the attraction. Now, I’m aware the critics are out there, and I think they raise good questions: why not buy more/all triple-certified coffees and teas? Doesn’t Starbucks drive the small, locally-owned shops out of business? Can a large company ever be truly sustainable? From what I’ve seen (and, please, share your experiences), Starbucks is making an effort well beyond that of most large American companies. While I’m not a fan of cheering every minor move that any company makes that’s “environmentally friendly,” it does seem to me that Starbucks has a system in place to address these issues, and is taking more than the simplest steps solely for their PR value.
So, I’ll continue to enjoy a cup of Starbucks out from time to time (and, actually, many mornings — my step-daughter works for them). I do think the questions need to be raised, though — that, of course, is what keeps the marketplace somewhat democratic.