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You’ve Got a Drive-Thru; You’re Not Green

Starbucks prides itself on how green it is. No negative externalities here — and it proudly advertises on its website its commitment to “Environmental Stewardship.”

I wonder, though, about its total effect on the environment.

On most mornings I stop by my own local coffee shop on the way to the office, park my car (Honda Civic or my wife’s Prius, being an environmental snob), and run in for a coffee.

On the route I drive by the local Starbucks and notice that — whether it’s 8 a.m. or 10 a.m. — there are at least 5 cars lined up at the drive-in window spewing forth exhaust fumes. Those fumes contribute heavily to pollution — I figure each car has to be there for at least 5 minutes of extra pollution.

I don’t care if the customers want to add to the price of their mocha lattes the value of the 5 minutes that they spend sitting in line; that’s their business. But I am bothered by the apparent hypocrisy of the company advertising green yet indirectly generating all the extra pollution.