At the Heart of the Beans

Ok, I’m not going to lie to ya; I haven’t been thinking much about green living recently. I’ve been thinking baseball! Our hometown team, the St. Louis Cardinals, won game 6 of the 2011 World Series with a walk-off home run by David Freese.

Game 7’s about to start as I write this, and Daughtry is singing the national anthem in front of a line of Joplin South Little League players from Joplin, Missouri.

Joplin tornado damage

Photo licensed under Creative Commons by KOMUnews on Flickr

Do you know about Joplin? May 22 this year, an EF5 multiple-vortex tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, and destroyed half the town. We were all amazed as we watched video spans of the city–nothing but debris.

Many businesses and organizations reached out to help in whatever way they could, but one stands out to me in particular, a company already dear to my heart for their environmental work: Starbucks.

My husband and I own our own LIFE leadership business. I also, however, work for Starbucks. Our manager, along with other regional store managers, recently returned from a trip to Joplin. Today he shared stories with me about his experience.

Starbucks has been with the residents from day one, he said, first reaching out to Joplin Starbucks partners, then donating $25,000 into community rebuilding, and this week serving coffee 24/7 while Extreme Home Makeover builds 7 houses in 7 days for Joplin tornado victims. The region’s store managers were brought in to help, too, because the communities Starbucks stores call home are just as important to the company as profits. In fact, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz visited one of the St. Louis stores while the managers visited Joplin, my manager told us, and when Marcel, our Regional Manager, began apologizing for not meeting Schultz during the CEO’s visit, Schultz quickly cut him off saying, “You’re the one doing the real work.”

I do hold Starbucks dear. Outreach to Joplin isn’t what made me love the company, though. They’ve always taken steps to help communities flourish and to protect our environment.

Starbucks Shared Planet

Photo licensed under Creative Commons by makipapa on Flickr

Starbucks currently has two certified organic coffees, one certified Fair Trade, many more certified environmentally and ethically responsible by Conservation International; cocoa mixes are ethically sourced; full and part-time partners are given full medical, dental, and vision insurance; initiatives taken in nation-wide stores, such as the change from continually running spoon rinse dipper wells to partner-activated dipper wells, reduce water and waste; stores’ compact fluorescent and LED lighting and cups and sleeves made from less plastic reduce energy consumption and resources used (and Starbucks has a goal of making all paper and plastic cups 100% recyclable within a few years); in-store, high-pressure blasts clean pitchers rather than partners rinsing pitchers with the more-wasteful tap; spent coffee grounds go to local gardeners and farmers; and renewable energy purchases fuel 20% of the total electricity used in U.S. and Canada stores; among other initiatives. Starbucks even began making some stores LEED certified (the first at 1st and Pike in Seattle).

Learn more about Starbucks’ environmental and community objectives in the Global Responsibility Report, and then, if you haven’t visited a Starbucks recently, do it.

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