Starbucks’ Red Holiday Cups Aren’t The Problem, Recycling Is

Customers haven’t been too pleased about Starbucks’ red holiday cups. Some are even going as far as to say the company is sparking a “war on Christmas.”

This year’s holiday cups at Starbucks look a little different. Some would say they look kind of bland. That’s because Starbucks removed its trademark “symbols of the season” used on past cups, which included Christmas ornaments, reindeer, or snowflakes on a red and white cup. When the cups started rolling out in late October, Starbucks vice president Jeffrey Fields said that his company “wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

This hasn’t sat well with some devout Christian folks. Joshua Feuerstein, a former pastor turned “social media personality,” has used his platform to slam Starbucks’ new holiday themed cups. He shared a video on Facebook on Nov. 5 that immediately went viral. In the clip, Feuerstein accuses Starbucks of ridding “Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.”

[Photo by Dan R. Krauss/Getty Images]
He also encouraged his followers to say “Merry Christmas” instead of their real names to baristas at Starbucks locations across the country. To him, that would be the only way to bring “Christmas” back to the Starbucks cups. He also encouraged his followers to use the #MerryChristmasStarbucks hashtag to post their photos on social media.

In response to Feuerstein’s video, Starbucks released a statement on Sunday saying that they’re a company that tries “to create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity.” The red holiday cup is used as a “blank canvas” that encourages “customers to tell their Christmas stories their own way.”

Some have defended Starbucks and criticized Feuerstein’s video. Some have taken to social media to exclaim how silly it is to be upset over the red cups.

University of Idaho student Kris Rollins wrote, “Christian friends, if you are going to be upset over red holiday cups that never had Christian symbols on them to begin with and not being wished a Merry Christmas at stores? If you think this is persecution? Please unfriend me.”

Even The View co-host Candace Cameron-Bure thinks that the controversy over Starbucks cups is ridiculous.

Starbucks Cups Instagram Post
[Photo via Candace Cameron-Bure/Instagram]
The larger problem at hand isn’t the fact that this year’s holiday cups look like red Solo cups, it’s the fact that company halted its efforts to recycle its cups in October. According to recent report via GreenBiz, most of the cups left in recycling bins in several Toronto Starbucks stores have ended up in the landfill. This has caused concerns about the company’s promise to reduce its use of coffee cups and to increase recycling.

Back in 2008, Starbucks promised that it would recycle all of its paper and plastic cups dispensed in its store locations in both the U.S. and Canada by 2012. That promise has been moved to 2015 — and is still in limbo. The company is aware that they’re behind schedule on their recycling goals, especially since only 47 percent of its stores in North America offer recycling bins. In addition, only 1.8 percent of Starbucks’ customers drink out of reusable cups.

Starbucks Plastic and Paper Cups
[Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]
This problem is definitely not all Starbucks’ fault. The problem is that most consumers don’t bother to place recyclables in the correct bins, requiring additional sorting. According to the report, Starbucks could reduce its recycling problem by following some simple management practices. For example, better methods for composting and recycling of cups could be employed so that they don’t end up in landfills.

While customers are claiming that there’s a war on Christmas thanks to the new look of Starbucks’ holiday-themed cups, the real war is on recycling. There’s little doubt Starbucks will solve its dilemma. It is just taking valuable time. To be fair, Starbucks is a fast food brand that’s attempting to do its part when it comes to recycling cups and materials. Starbucks competitors like Dunkin’ Donuts will have to do their part to resolve this problem, as well.

[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

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