Coffee shops have become an integral part of our daily routine. For many, it’s a place to catch up with friends, and for others, it's a haven of relaxation. However, with the rise in environmental concerns, coffee shops may be doing more harm than good; it’s alarming to consider that those convenient single-use plastic cups, whether they house steaming lattes at cozy cafes or sodas at fast-food joints, could be releasing hazardous compounds capable of infiltrating our precious oceans. Amid this environmental concern, a glimmer of hope emerges from an unlikely corner: the coffee shop industry. Across the globe, these places are rousing themselves from complacency and mustering the courage to tackle the plastic scourge head-on. For one, they are vocal advocates for paper straws, reusable cups, and the “for here” alternative that beckons the use of cherished mugs. Valor Coffee, a local coffee shop in Alpharetta, Georgia, has taken the initiative to provide free refills to encourage more customers to switch from to-go orders to dine-in orders. These initiatives aim to reduce the number of plastic accessories being used, taking away the hundreds of years it takes for them to decompose in landfills.
The transition to more environmentally-friendly coffee drinking options has influenced larger companies like Starbucks too. In recent years, they have switched from plastic to paper straws, inspiring other shops to follow in their footsteps. This pivotal shift in coffee culture involves a concerted effort to diminish our reliance on plastic by completely phasing out traditional straws in favor of biodegradable paper alternatives. These eco-conscious paper straws, hailing from renewable sources, possess the remarkable ability to naturally break down over time.
The drive for change should not just be limited to the coffee industry. Reformation, a small apparel company out of Los Angeles, began using eco-friendly materials instead of nonrenewable fabrics. Other companies have followed suit.
Lastly, governments should also take an active role in promoting sustainability among businesses by offering incentives for eco-friendly practices. Alternatively, stricter regulations on disposables can be imposed. By working together, we will be able to create a more sustainable world for generations to come.
D.K. is a student from the United States. In her free time, she reads mysteries, plays guitar, roller-skates around her neighborhood, and volunteers in her community. She believes True to You will help youth raise awareness of community issues.