Sunday, June 8, 2008

Starbucks Splash Sticks... huh?

Today, I saw someone's starbucks coffee had this thing sticking out of the sip hole...

I learned this little green invention was called a Splash Stick and the purpose of it was to prevent accidental spills from the little hole on the lid. At first I thought, wow how cool... I love mermaids and the design is cute and innovative and... well, cool!

Then I went home, saw my post again about the polar bears and thought to myself... wait a minute! that little green plastic thingy is kind of wasteful isn't it? I mean, how much will be produced and then just carelessly thrown away? Besides, isn't the cup lid supposed to prevent spills in the first place? what about covering the hole with a sticker or something... what about a finger? what about being just a little more careful when you walk so you don't spill stuff all over yourself?

I would have to say this was a bad call on Starbucks part to put these things out. I wonder, too, why these splash sticks were "quietly introduced" to the Starbucks chains. I'm sure they know these aren't environmentally friendly, but wanted to come out with this gimmick anyway. What happened to being environmentally responsible?

I'm not a tree hugger or anything, but I understand that for plastic bags alone, every year billions of them are produced and less then 3% are recycled. Plastic bags are typically made of polyethylene and can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade in landfills that emit harmful greenhouse gases. In fact, the 380 billion plastic bags that Americans throw away each year are made from millions of barrels of petroleum, contributing to global warming, depleting oil supplies, and driving up costs of petroleum-based products like gasoline and energy for our homes.

You can check out more facts on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Global Warming website

They also have a few definitions posted that make explaining (and understanding) the problem of global warming a bit clearer.

Global warming
The progressive gradual rise of the earth's surface temperature thought to be caused by the greenhouse effect and responsible for changes in global climate patterns. An increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse Gas
Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), halogenated fluorocarbons (HCFCs), ozone (O3), perfluorinated carbons (PFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Greenhouse effect
The effect produced as greenhouse gases allow incoming solar radiation to pass through the Earth's atmosphere, but prevent part of the outgoing infrared radiation from the Earth's surface and lower atmosphere from escaping into outer space. This process occurs naturally and has kept the Earth's temperature about 59 degrees F warmer than it would otherwise be. Current life on Earth could not be sustained without the natural greenhouse effect.

Enhanced greenhouse effect
The concept that the natural greenhouse effect has been enhanced by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. Increased concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, CFCs, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3 and other photochemically important gases caused by human activities such as fossil fuel consumption, trap more infra-red radiation, thereby exerting a warming influence on the climate.

Anyway, I'm not saying I'm the perfect environmentalist or anything, but I think we can all do our part. I believe the Lord meant for us to be good stewards of what He gave us. So I've come up with some goals for myself and tips to share on being more responsible:

1. Look more carefully at stuff before throwing away and determine what can be recycled. For example, I had absolutely no idea that yogurt containers could be recycled until I looked at one closely and saw the symbol.

2. Reuse more stuff. I've gotten into the habit of taking water bottles home and refilling with filtered water. I think this is good to re-use a few more times. Better yet, I should use the kind that you just wash and refill.

3. Use less ziploc bags and use more of the food containers that you can rewash and reuse. Bringing your own lunch saves money too.

4. Carpool when possible. With gas prices these days, this is getting to be a necessity!

5. Don't take stuff that's not needed, even if free. This includes the splash sticks, extra napkins (unless you're really going to use them), free pens (that's gonna be a hard one for me), and other freebies that will certainly be thrown away soon and filling up our landfill.

Ok, well that's it for now. (Sigh) Save our polar bears!


Joan Y said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I am reconstructing my compost bin and have bought some reusable metal water bottles so I don't have to buy plastic disposable ones. I also made a rule that I am going to reuse the plastic bags that I have now and use my reusable grocery bags from now on, even if it means going back to the car if I forget them. It is a tough habit to start! I totally agree that we need to do our part for the environment! Love this post Jennifer and congrats on all that you've done!

Zari said...

thanks for shring this valuable info! btw...i've not seen those plastic little mermaids in starbucks (lebanon) yet...anyways, i'm not visiting starbucks as often as before...i'm making my coffee at work, no paper or plastic cups used : )

JC said...

Thanks Joan and Zari! The plastic mermaids just got me thinking about being more environmentally responsible. But I still like Starbucks (just not the splash sticks) =)

George said...

Just curious any idea how much plastic goes into those sticks. I am trying to see if the amount of plastic can be quantified, might make more of an effect if a number can be put to it.

Sharon said...

Those splash guards are as environmentally treacherous as plastic straws and should be treated as such. I did some researching on whether they can be recycled anywhere. Very little information on the exists by the way, which makes me think that perhaps Starbucks is quashing that tidbit of bad press. From what I've been able to gather they CANNOT be recycled. SHAME ON YOU STARBUCKS! I agree with you 100%. Starbucks is talking out both sides of its corporate mouth. One side tells us that "Starbucks cares about the environment." The other side says, "We are producing just as much if not more environmentally hazardous waste as McDonalds. Our 'Ethos' water is in a plastic bottle, our paper cups are not recyclable and our plastic splash guards will litter the planet until the earth erupts into a cosmic ball of flames."