Thursday, October 9, 2008

Every Drop Counts


How much is 23 mil liters of water?

I cannot visualize that but mathematically, it is the amount enough to fill about 10 Olympics size swimming pools. That is also the amount of water Starbucks wastes every day by leaving the tap running all the time.

In the name of hygiene, Starbucks has the corporate practice of leaving a tap running behind each service counter. According to Starbucks, this is their way of keeping the utensils clean and the practice is followed in each of their 10,000 cafes worldwide.

Extravagant!
Environmentalists are now screaming at them for such a wasteful practice. Ironically, Starbucks is known as an avid supporter of green movement. They are the ones who would encourage customers to use tumblers instead of disposable cups.

There are 57 Starbucks outlets in Singapore contributing to the waste and they are not alone. 28 outlets from Spinelli and 45 from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf are also using the same cleaning method.

In Singapore, one can be fined up to $50,000 and jailed up to 3 years for wasting waters. However, the Public Utilities Act is not helpful in telling us what is the meaning of 'waste'. In this instance, it may not be easy for PUB to yank the 'wasters' to court.


Many companies claim that they support green movement and loudly proclaim their ideology in their corporate statements and advertisement. It is heart-warming to find that there are no lack of corporate supporters who are out there helping to spread the green message.

But.... hang on... these are money making people. Why would they want to do something that do not benefit their bottom line. Ya, I can't help but behaving skeptical towards their genuineness. Are they using green movement to seduce customers who are the true Greens? At the end of the day, the companies are probably seeing their 'green campaigns' as a form of advertisement.


Starbucks must have done their sums before deciding how much to be spent on their 'Green' mask. It must be a sum sufficient to buy public perception but not too much to hurt the bottom line. When it comes to the crunch, the good old rule of cost effectiveness kicks in and it will not matter if, in this aspect, the Mother Earth gets hurt or not.

Let's face it. Starbucks is set up to make money. They need to be pragmatic in their business models and it is not in their Memorandum of Article to 'hug trees'. Actually, they wouldn't have annoyed the environmentalists so much if not for their 'Green' public image.


My take is that, Starbucks is out to make money and if they can hug a few trees along the way, they would. But if there are trees that get in their money making path, the will take very little hesitation to fell them. Some call such pseudo Green supporters, watermelon, green on the outside but red inside.

Final note: Pragmatism and Environmentalism don't mix.

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