Seattle Weekly Writer, Aimee Curl, dug below the coffee grounds and into the dirt. Turns out that Tully’s is out-greening the coffee giant, Starbucks. They are using “eco-tainers” and really managing their waste flow. The smaller Seattle coffee chain report 78% recycling rate for all the waste their business creates. Read more….

Little coffee companies are leading the way.

Little coffee companies are leading the way.

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A new website, The Point, allows anyone to start a boycott or similar campaign against a company or organization. One of the more popular one’s is against Starbuck’s use of unsustainable disposable to-go cups. P. Zelchenko, who started this action, is hoping it “will embarrass Starbucks into truly embracing the environmental ideals that it claims to espouse.”

The idea starts with 102,950 people joining this campaign after which time they will begin writing their names on each paper cup they are served for “in store” use. If Starbucks does not comply they will “insist that they remain on a shelf, to be reused the next time we return to the store.”

The Point

Another campaign of interest involves Pepsi’s use of unsustainable plastic in bottling their Aquafina Brand water. “When we reach our goal of recruiting 50,000 Aquafina drinkers, we will stop drinking Aquafina water, causing PepsiCo an abrupt drop in profits, amounting to approximately $20 million annually in gross profit.” They demand they find a bio-plastic alternative to existing bottles or suffer the consequences of a sizable boycott and likely a lot of bad press. Cheers to the campaign organizers and everyone at The Point for an interesting approach to social change.

According to Wikipedia, Bagasse is the left-over bio mass when you’ve squeezed all of the juice out of sugarcane. In addition to being explored as feed for live stock and raw material for creating bio fuels, bagasse can also replace paper in many disposable products including cups, trays, plates and bowls. After an exhaustive search I found TreeCycle, purveyors of fine recycled paper products. They sell those little coffee convenience trays that keep you from spilling milk all over your car when you are kind enough to pick up some caffeine for your coworkers. Better yet the trays are made from this material of the gods, bagasse, which happens to be sustainable and biodegradable. Hurray for responsible coffee drinking!

Coffee tray made from sugarcane.

That NY coffee cup feeling

September 30, 2007

If you have ever ordered coffee from a street vendor in NYC you will find this product particularly comforting. We Are Happy To Serve You makes a ceramic coffee mugs that look identical to their earth-thrashing paper counterparts. This is a much cooler alternative to a made-in-China plastic Empire State Building statue that just sits there doing nothing.

We Are Happy To Serve You mug

Green Moving Boxes

September 23, 2007

Perhaps, like you, I want to hoard perfectly functional cardboard boxes. For me it’s about not paying for boxes when I’m shipping things I’ve sold on Ebay. It’s also about not deforesting the planet by giving the old ones a new life. Few of us have enough space in our garages for the number of paper vessels needed to move a typical household from one home to the next.  What do you do when you want to be green but need a whole bunch? Used Cardboard Boxes to the rescue!Boxes

The prices are slightly lower than buying new boxes from the other major competitors like U-Haul, but you can rest easy knowing that you are killing fewer trees as you finally move into your country home in the woods. Ah, nature….

Paper cup manufacturer, International Paper, has created a cup that is defininitely a step in the right direction. Ecotainer from International PaperTheir Ecotainer hot beverage cup is lined with corn protein instead of plastic. According to their press release this small move to replacing the petro-chemical ingredients could save enough energy to heat over 8,300 American homes a year. They mention on the site that they also use renewable energy to produce the cup but strangely there is no mention of the cups’ virgin paper content. While perhaps a bit of green-washing from a company whose core business still relies on trees for it’s profit, they offer a slightly less evil disposable cup that is ready for use in your local Starbucks today.

Not all cups are created equal. According the Institute of Lifecycle Environmental Assessment
a reusable cup must be used a certain number of times to make up for the energy used to create it.

Reusable vs. Disposable Cups

The chart shows how you must use a ceramic mug 39 times to make it more efficient than a paper disposable cup. Read a full article about this at Make Magazine online.

This chart though doesn’t address things like these vessel’s impact on the planet once they break or are thrown away. The disposable cups take up more space in landfills and cannot be recycled like the reusable cups. I find myself using my steel and plastic reusable mugs at more than coffee shops. I get some strange looks at restaurants where they automatically just give you a disposable cup. I use it as an opportunity to say, “No thanks I don’t want a disposable cup because they come from trees/oil.”