The Buck Stops…Everywhere

starbucksI know, I know…some of us think the coffee giant is an evil empire. I was a coffee house snob for ages, choosing to only patronize places with big stained couches and mismatched ceramic mugs and pastries that came out of a kitchen instead of a box…but such places are harder to come by these days, and the local Starbies crew knows me well enough to start my drink before I even get to the register.

You have to admit–as giant corporations go, Starbucks does a pretty good job of keeping many priorities straight for customers, staff, and the communities in which they reside (almost every community–on every corner, right?)

Their outreach programs to support causes for the environment and global communities are really strong–like a good triple tall cappuccino–mmmmm.

For their “partners” (employees), they match the volunteer hours employees give to their own chosen charities with a donation of an additional $10 per volunteer hour. They also match employee donations to charitable causes.

The company has a foundation that has several arms of support: for youth—granting to programs that focus on arts and literacy for young people, as well as environmental education and civic action programs for kids. The Ethos Water program donates money for the bottled water they sell to clean water programs around the world. The “Red” cards you can buy, as well as other branded red products, send a portion of proceeds to AIDS education and prevention programs.

In the coffee-growing communities, Starbucks works to protect ecosystems, partnering with Conservation International and the African Wildlife Foundation to support the sensitive biodiversity regions where beans are grown. They also spearhead projects for social development in coffee-origin countries, particularly with Save the Children USA and rural communities in Guatemala, plus team projects to build schools, health clinics, and water systems. (Click on those links to find out more)

Their basic environmental focus is strong too–with the use of renewable wind energy being used or counter-purchased/offset for stores in the U.S. and Canada.

It doesn’t make that four dollar cup of Joe any easier on your wallet—but there are lots of huge corporations with whom we often do business (fast food joints, grocery chains, certain “Mart” stores–that are evil in their corporate responsibility practices–or lack thereof)—so its nice to not feel like you’re chipping away at our world, but may even be helping build it up as you caffeinate to get through the day. I’m kind of fond of the Starbucks Shared Planet frame of mind.


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