By, Sammy Caiola
Native Foods Cafe
Coffee addicts will do just about anything for a cup of Joe, be it waiting on a sluggish Starbucks line or spending $6 a day on a gourmet brew. Nothing stands between them and their fix- not even the environment which, as it turns out, takes a tremendous hit from every soggy coffee cup that a commuter throws in the trash.
About 83% of the United States drinks coffee, making us the largest coffee consumer in the world, according to the National Coffee Association’s 2013 survey. The Environment Action Association estimates that Americans drink 400 million coffee cups per day, resulting in 146 billion cups disposed of every year, 25 billion of which are styrofoam.
And yet, America’s second largest coffee shop still sells hot liquid exclusively in styrofoam cups. That’s right folks- Dunkin Donuts. See below for a breakdown of how Dunky D’s and first place holder Starbucks compare in terms of environmental impact, both to each other and to Native Foods Cafe, which goes above and beyond to make sure its to-go coffee is as green as possible. Too bad we can’t say the same for everyone else.
Native Foods Café uses this photo courtesy of sudhasrinath.blogspot.com.
Founded back in the 1950’s, Dunkin Donuts has become the working man’s coffee shop. You won’t find free wi-fi and soy milk in this joint, just simple coffee served in- you guessed it- Styrofoam cups. And that’s because most of Dunkin’s clientele isn’t looking for a cup that will save the world, just something that will keep their caffeine warm en route to work. Dunkin knows this, and thus has made almost no effort to find an alternative to Styrofoam, which is 0% biodegradable and a huge contributor to land fills. When they have tested more eco-friendly cups, they’ve received negative consumer reviews and a drop in sales.
Native Foods Café uses this image courtesy of change.org.
Only this summer, when the town of Brookline, Massachusetts passed a ban on all Styrofoam packaging in food service establishments, did the company introduce a double-walled paper cup. But the move is arbitrary and made only to please politics. The new cup isn’t even getting recycled because the town’s recycling facility cannot break down the lining. Instead, the cups will be burned and release toxic fumes into the ozone. Dunkin authorities say they have no intention of implementing the paper cup at any of the other 10,000+ locations. America runs on Styrofoam? I’ll pass.
Starbucks stormed the coffee scene in 1971 and has maintained an impenetrable monopoly ever since. It’s unofficial slogan, “one on every corner” is no joke—there are more than 20,000 Starbucks worldwide and 13,000 in the United States. But despite its green logo and its trendy urbanite branding, the Seattle-based company is not as green as it wants you to believe. Only 10% of its “eco friendly” cup is made of recycled paper. Last year, they made a bold move in switching from PET cold cups to polypropylene cold cups, which use significantly less plastic and reduce greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing by 45 percent. Still, when you consider the environmental shipping costs to their 7,000 global locations, it hardly seems to balance out.
Native Foods Café uses this photo courtesy of inhabitat.com
Starbucks gets an A for effort. But considering their corporate climate and their need to satisfy the masses, an eco overhaul seems unlikely. If you’re stuck on Starbucks and can’t shake the habit, opt for their $1 reusable coffee cup. It pays itself off in ten drinks and if you use it daily for a month you’ll avoid using more than a pound of paper. Get on top of the trend- go green!
Native Foods Café
I’ll admit some bias here. But truthfully, our cup is the best. We serve our deliciously steamy chai tea and organic coffees in hot cups made by EarthChoice, a leader in the green food packaging industry. They contain less plastic and are manufactured with less fossil fuel and processed without chlorine. It is certified 100% compostable. Everything we serves comes from the earth, so why not put it right back in?
Native Foods Café uses this photo courtesy of pjpmarketplace.com
The hot cup’s lining and the cold cups’ straws are made from PLA (polylactic acid) a renewable, natural plastic derived solely from plants. The lid is made of a blend of talc, a naturally occurring mineral, and polypropylene, which reduced plastic use by about 40 percent. Earthchoice packaging is manufactured and shipped within the United States. Earthchoice is the right choice, and so is Native. So come on by and grab a chai tea with my favorite dessert, the carrot cupcake!
Native Foods Café uses this photo courtesy of yelp.com.