Would you like to make your green tea even greener? Or your espresso more eco-friendly? Starting Thursday, Starbucks is hoping to inject a bit of environmentalism into each one of its brewed drinks by offering it in a reusable mug, costing just $1. The new cups change very little, except for the material: they are nearly identical to the Seattle-based coffee company’s iconic white paper cup.
Of course, the paper cups are still available for no charge, but the company is hoping that it will increase customers’ habits in bringing reusable cups, an initiative they’ve promoted since 1985 which they currently nets customers a 10-cent discount on their order. The new cups will also follow this same policy, which means it’ll pay for itself in 10 uses. Nothing fuels a coffee addiction like a bit of environmental do-goodism.
The program was first tested in Starbucks’ hometown of Seattle and throughout the already environmentally-friendly Pacific Northwest. It’s the same spirit that has encouraged shoppers to bring their own bags with them in San Francisco and Portland, both of which have enacted bans on plastic bags, requiring customers to bring their own or purchase reusable cloth bags. Seeing success, the reusable cups are now being rolled out to all of the U.S. and Canada.
It’s all part of a long-term effort by the chain to reduce environmental waste by cutting down on the number of paper cups finding their way to landfills. (Those Trenta cups take up quite a bit of space, you know.) Starbucks long announced ago that it wanted to serve at least 25% of drinks in reusable cups by the year of 2015. The company has substantially lowered their expectations with this newest initiative, revising the hoped-for proportion to 5% in the next two years. But it seems like an attainable goal — in 2011, Starbucks reports that 2% of drinks were served in reusable mugs. Now we just have to remember to grab ours off the counter before we run to Starbucks — a notoriously difficult feat before our first cup of coffee.