Earth Day has come and gone this year, but the environmental mindfulness this day promotes should remain. It can sometimes be easy to assume the acts we do won’t make a huge difference to our planet. However, making small changes to our everyday behavior — such as coffee drinking, for instance — is what can save our environment in the long run. One of the most recent issues that has sparked discussion in environmental topics today is the harmful impact of plastic straw use by restaurants and coffee shops. Not only do plastic straws have fatal effects on marine life, but they’re too small to be recycled, making them pile up as waste. Luckily, many local coffee shops have taken the initiative and changed their habits by eliminating the use of plastic straws. In order to continue this year promoting more conscious consumption habits, I have provided you all the information you will need to navigate the most environmentally-friendly coffee spots on and off campus.
Starbucks at the UCen: I was very happy to find out that the UCen Starbucks has switched from plastic to compostable straws for their customers. I still have yet to see one of their new strawless lids for iced drinks, but this effort shows that they are being more conscious about their environmental footprint. Be warned though, not every Starbucks location in the area has taken up this practice. Both the location in IV, as well as the one in the Camino Real Marketplace in Goleta, have yet to make the shift to compostable straws. Hopefully this change will soon carry over to every nearby location.
The Store at Buchanan coffee stand: This convenient on-campus coffee cart which works to serve those very necessary caffeine pick-me-ups between classes has also taken an eco-friendly initiative by replacing their plastic straws with compostable ones. If you’re ever in need of a cheap, quick coffee without the guilt of wasting plastic, stop by this spot on campus!
The Arbor: Once again, YAY for student convenience and compostable straws!
Cajé: Everyone’s favorite coffee shop and study spot in I.V. has also made many environmentally-friendly changes in their work practices. When people sit either inside or out on the Cajé patio while drinking their coffee, the workers always provide drinks in either a washable ceramic or glass cup with no straw to individuals. This is not only a better alternative to plastic or paper cups, but it also gives Cajé the welcoming atmosphere we all know and love. If you do need to order an iced coffee to go, they also provide paper straws!
The French Press: If you ever are in the mood to venture outside of campus or I.V. for your coffee fix, The French Press in Goleta or downtown is one of my favorite spots to study. Like Cajé — if you choose to drink inside (which I highly recommend) — the workers will bring you a washable cup without a straw. The French Press has also switched to compostable straws to maintain their eco-friendly theme.
While many local favorites are beginning to adopt new methods with less environmental consequences, there are still some coffee shops that have not. If you ever find yourself at a coffee shop or restaurant that only offers plastic straws, there are still some things you can do to help the environment. One way is by simply ordering a hot drink rather than an iced one. I can almost guarantee that no coffee shop will offer you a straw with a warm drink, and it may pair well with the overcast weather we have been having in Santa Barbara. Another step many people are beginning to take is purchasing their own reusable metal straws. More and more people are switching over to this option in order to ensure they are never stuck in a situation where they have to use plastic. The final alternative I have to offer is to go to a more sit-down, casual coffee spot like Cajé, The French Press or Handlebar where they won’t give you a straw unless you ask for one. These little measures can really make a difference in the long run.
The Santa Barbara and Goleta community is definitely making strides in the right direction with the amount of environmentally-friendly changes being made in their coffee shops. The harm of plastic straws to both our planet and wildlife should not be ignored, and it is our job to acknowledge this by making these small everyday changes to our lives.
Paige Holloway is a Communication and Sociology major as well as an Opinion and On the Menu writer. Her interests include fitness, iced coffee and baby animals.