My weekly treat is a Starbucks cappuccino. On each visit it jars when I see that, after the barista pours the cappuccino from the metal pitcher into the Starbucks paper cup, a certain amount always remains in the pitcher, and this is just poured into the sink.

Recently, I began to use my own coffee cup to reduce paper and plastic waste (and also the price: Starbucks gives a ¥20 discount to customers bringing a personal cup).

The first time at Starbucks with my reusable cup, I called to the barista as she was about to discard the surplus cappuccino down the drain and said, “Don’t throw it away, pour it into my cup (which was voluminous enough for the extra liquid), please.”

She replied apologetically that, because I had ordered a small size, I could not be given any over the stipulated amount. I pleaded that the quantity of coffee left in the pitcher was small (it would not fill an egg cup), and that surely it would be better consumed than discarded. Unmoved, the barista insisted it had to go into the sink, which is where it went.

At several other Starbucks in Nagoya my efforts at saving coffee from the drains have been in vain. With the world in the midst of a mass extinction event (the so-called sixth extinction) driven by humankind, a lot more than carrying a personal cup will be needed to save this planet. But it is a gesture.

I suggest Starbucks Coffee Japan make it official policy (or a company-sanctioned unspoken agreement) to pour every last drop from the pitcher into personal cups. This perk, together with the small financial incentive, should nudge more people into cup-carrying, thereby helping to reduce waste.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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