Update as of March 4, 2020: Starbucks has temporarily suspended the use of personal cups and tumblers because of coronavirus health concerns. If you bring a cup you can still get the 10 cent discount, though.
I’ve been using Starbucks’ $3 reusable cup and straw since last year when I first saw the option suitable for iced drinks. Starbucks already had a reusable hot coffee tumbler, but I had never seen one for cold beverages, which are all I drink. You can use the plastic cup for iced drinks whenever you go to Starbucks, and of course for water or whatever beverage you want to drink at home. I often fill up the cup with water and ice to keep myself hydrated throughout the day. If you’re using the Starbucks cup for your Starbucks drink, it pays for itself in 30 uses, with the added benefit of reducing plastic waste.
Starbucks says that its goal is to “serve 5 percent of all beverages made in our stores in personal tumblers.” Also, “In 2013 customers brought their own tumblers into our stores 46.9 million times, up from 35.8 million in 2012, saving more than 1.4 million pounds of paper from landfills. As more customers brought in their personal tumblers over the previous year, the percentage of customers choosing reusable mugs saw a 22% increase over the prior year from 1.5% to 1.84%.” I hoped that number would be higher, and maybe it is now.
Perhaps people don’t know they can bring their own tumbler for their coffee, or they just don’t remember to bring it. I assume others just might not care. Sigh. But if you do want to do something to reduce your daily waste, it’s incredibly easy to use your own cup at Starbucks.
The process: Order your drink at the counter as you normally would and hand them your cup with the lid off. You will receive your 10 cent discount. Just make sure the tumbler is appropriate for hot vs. cold drinks, of course. And that it’s clean. If you’re in the drive-through, order your drink as you normally would, but let them know you have your personal cup. Your discount will also be applied. Then hand them your cup with the lid off at the window when you pay. Easy!
Note: I am not sure if there’s a way to order ahead on the app and use your personal cup. I have not seen it yet. I would think the challenge is that they can’t pour it into your cup until you get there and I don’t see a solution to that.
Now, is the $3 reusable cup a good buy? I think it’s an affordable way to reduce plastic waste and get a discount on your drink. Starbucks even came out with a color-changing option recently. If your budget allows and you get Starbucks often, I would recommend a sturdier container, though. This is because I have already broken one of the cups when I dropped it. Starbucks has many of these options in the store and some are even glass. I think these would do better in the long run, but any reusable option is better than a single-use plastic.
Have you brought your personal tumbler to Starbucks? Is eliminating waste a priority for you?
Update: I decided to purchase a cute personalized reusable cup on Etsy. There so many cute options!
Shop for reusable tumblers**:
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