In very unsurprising news: Starbucks has opened a new coffee shop. In surprising news: that Starbucks store is made from repurposed cargo containers!
With many containers scrapped at the end of an average lifespan of 20 years, the Starbucks solution served to convert a potential waste stream from the company’s supply chain into shop space.
This Tukwila store is also the first LEED-certified structure in town. It uses fully reclaimed material for the exterior. Rainwater collected from the roof reduces water consumption and nourishes surrounding “xeriscaping” — landscapes and plants that naturally require less water.
More info and pictures.
Thanks to Mike!
The Green Lantern (the cute name for Slate’s enviro-advice column) answered the question of which kind of cup to use in the office. The answer isn’t as clear as you think, as always, there are many issues that need to inform your decision. In sum, use an old mug (don’t buy new ones) and wash using environmentally friendly soap.
The Lantern uses a mug for office beverages, but he’s chosen to go the scavenger route—using an old one someone left in his office. Your colleagues’ instincts are right to avoid polystyrene, but they shouldn’t buy brand-new mugs as a replacement (even the kind that come with cheeky green messages). Unless you absolutely need to drink your coffee on the go, ceramic is better than stainless steel. And when you wash, do it by hand, using phosphate-free soap and cold water. (If you want to use hot water, see if you can share washing duties throughout the office, so the water doesn’t need to be heated separately for each mug.)
What if you get your coffee at the local Starbucks on your way to work? The nationwide chain deserves credit for including 10 percent recycled content in its cups, and paper—unlike polystyrene—has the advantage of being a renewable resource. But in other ways, the wood-based venti cups are even worse than office polystyrene: They’re heavier, which means more energy used to create the cup and more waste once the cups have been crushed. Other coffee retailers are experimenting with cups made out of plant-based material, which can then be composted—a positive step, although one that raises a question of where all that extra corn will come from.
Starbucks is a massive international coffee chain that is infamous for putting their own coffee shops across the street from one another. They also have a reputation that they drive local independent coffee shops out of business, it seems this reputation is undeserved.
Slate has an article examining how Starbucks helps small coffee shops by giving them new customers.
The first time Herb Hyman spoke with the rep from Starbucks, in 1991, the life of his small business flashed before his eyes. For three decades, Hyman’s handful of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf stores had been filling the caffeine needs of Los Angeles locals and the Hollywood elite: Johnny Carson had his own blend there; Jacques Cousteau arranged to have Hyman’s coffee care packages meet his ship at ports around the world; and Dirty Dozen leading man Lee Marvin often worked behind the counter with Hyman for fun. But when the word came down that the rising Seattle coffee juggernaut was plotting its raid on Los Angeles, Hyman feared his life’s work would be trampled underfoot. Starbucks even promised as much. “They just flat-out said, ‘If you don’t sell out to us, we’re going to surround your stores,’ ” Hyman recalled. “And lo and behold, that’s what happened—and it was the best thing that ever happened to us.”