March 15, 2011

Giving Starbucks a Second Chance. ~ Sara Bruskin

Photo: MyLifeStory

Checking in on the businesses we love to hate.

Also: Starbucks’ Naked Hypocrisy.

Reasons it’s getting harder to hate Starbucks.

At what point do we reconsider our conscious consumerism verdicts?

I recently realized that I have been shunning Softsoap brand products for years on possibly outdated information. After reading five years ago that Softsoap tests on animals, I decided not to buy their products anymore. While I encourage others to do research on the products they purchase, I also encourage them to go back and look at those products again after a reasonable amount of time. Companies that have been previously written off may have changed their practices, and those changes need to be rewarded with your business.

That said, some changes do not merit reintegration into your list of redeemed companies. Starbucks, for instance, has started using cups that are made with 10% post-consumer material. This development is commendable, but has it brought Starbucks into our good graces? Certainly not.

Starbucks’ cups are still lined with plastic, and topped with plastic lids. These are not recyclable and can cause toxins to seep into your hot beverage. There is also the matter of their coffee, most of which is not a fair trade product.

Photo: Abras2010

Wal-Mart is working to reduce their waste by purging plastic bags in some of their California stores. Again, this is a great step towards more eco-friendly practices, but I still do not plan on turning to Wal-Mart for my consumer needs. Their harmful labor practices outweigh their attempts to jump on the green bandwagon.

Conscious consumerism is a full-time job, and consistent research can help us help our world. Make sure consumer guides come from reputable sources, and consider your own standards of ethics when choosing to condemn or adore companies.

Give businesses second chances—but stay vigilant (in a relaxed way).


Sara Bruskin recently graduated from the University of Colorado, and is working as an intern for Colorado Common Cause.

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