Disturbing, tragic things happen in the world. Paying attention to the news sometimes compels me to abandon so-called civilized society and become a hermit. But occasionally a story will surface that restores my faith in humanity. An individual or group can prick our consciousness about an issue we’ve previously overlooked. The indignant cry for justice of these brave few motivates us to create change for good as in the cases of abolition, women’s right to vote and the civil rights movement.
During November 2015, I am witnessing such a movement take place in America prompted by the faith community I was raised in. In our Davidian way, Christians are finally uniting against the corporate Goliath, Starbucks.
For years this ubiquitous coffee chain has been blatantly peddling to go cups and no one has raised an eyebrow.
Thankfully, those of us who care about Peace on Earth around this time of year are outraged about the implications of these cups. In case you don’t understand what all the fuss is about, here’s a thumbnail’s sketch of what’s troubling some people of faith.
According to FDA standards, food and drink containers can only have a limited amount of recycled content. That means all new cups are made from virgin paper then bleached and chemically treated. This process requires a lot of water and energy while exposing factory workers to harmful chemicals.
You may be surprised to learn paper comes from trees which sequester carbon. Ironic since the process of extracting raw materials, manufacturing said materials into single use disposable cups then shipping to go cups to a Starbucks near you, emits carbon. Too much carbon you may also be surprised to learn, is slowly rendering the planet unhabitable.
And, these iconic vessels are not recyclable or compostable because of the plastic lining that keeps them from disintegrating in your hand. Since Starbucks hawks anywhere from 2 billion to 52 billion paper cups (and plastic tops and cardboard heat shields) a year, we’re expanding our landfills and poisoning our water while decreasing our forests.