Southern California environment news and trends

Starbucks introducing earth-friendlier hot cup sleeves

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Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

In another example of little things meaning a lot, the Starbucks is launching the EarthSleeve, a new hot cup sleeve the coffee company claims will potentially save close to 10,000 trees.

According to a company press release, the EarthSleeve was developed for Starbucks by LBP Manufacturing in conjunction with Henkel, and uses 34 percent less raw fiber material with a full 25 percent increase in recycled materials. Given the company’s overwhelming share of the American coffee market, this cup sleeve upgrade is poised to make a considerable environmental and industry difference.

“At Starbucks we are constantly looking to innovate in ways that make our world a better place,” said Cliff Burrows, president of the Americas for Starbucks in a statement. “This product represents how the integration of our environmental values and collaboration with like-minded organizations can create significant impact.”

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Sustainable buzz: Reusing coffee grounds and tea leaves

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Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Freshly-roasted espresso coffee beans cool in a refurbished 1918 Probat coffee bean roaster.

For many of us, caffeine is a managed addiction. It could be that routine trip to a local teahouse for a particular blend, or a certain bean that makes the perfect cup every time. Regardless of your degree of coffee/tea snobbery (or lack thereof), the countless masses sifting though the stuff on a daily basis adds up to a lot of used grinds and leaves. For the more sustainability-conscious consumer, the inevitable question arises: What can I do with it? According to Treehugger, the answer is quite a lot.

The piece goes on to detail no less than 20 uses for both used coffee grounds and tea leaves, many of which of are unexpected, to say the least. While things like adding coffee grounds to soil for plants that crave acids (like roses and evergreens) might be common knowledge among gardeners, coffee grounds can also be used to deter ants and when mixed with orange peel, have the same effect on cats. They’re also good for cleaning fireplaces, as the damp grounds weigh down the ash and helps reduce dust.

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Leonardo DiCaprio launches sustainable coffee line for charity

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

It wasn’t all that long ago that Paul Newman was the first (and last) name in charitable food lines. Launching Newman’s Own back in 1982, he famously directed all of the proceeds from his salad dressings, lemonade and the like to charity, with an emphasis on “conservation and ecology and things like that.”

Now, you can’t launch a web browser without seeing another celebrity shilling foodstuffs, especially when it comes to caffeinated gold, coffee. It was only a few months ago that Hugh Jackman introduced his Laughing Man brand of “charity coffee” as well as a Manhatten café.

Not to be outdone, young(er) Hollywood is getting into the act. Leonardo DiCaprio has partnered with the coffee roasters of La Colombe Torrefaction to introduce Lyon, a high-end coffee blend. 100% of the profits from the sales of Lyon will go environmental charities already supported by the Leonardi DiCaprio foundation.

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Starbucks opens drive-through made of recycled shipping containers near Seattle

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Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

Shipping containers have long been a hot topic in eco-circles. With more of them collecting dust across America than many realize, finding myriad ways to recycle the hulking shells abound. Given their size, re-imagining these containers as homes and shelters have been especially popular. The SEED Project at Clemson University was inspired to utilize them as emergency housing in case of devastating incidents such as Hurricane Katrina.

Shipping containers have also become popular as quick and easy pop-up businesses (officially known as “cargotecture”), and Starbucks has jumped on the trend by opening a drive-through store from recycled shipping units in Tukwila, WA, not far from Seattle. Constructed from four cargo containers stacked two high, the location does not have any indoor seating.

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