The Starbucks red cup controversy has been getting nonstop coverage for the past four days…social media, talk radio, news channels, and even presidential candidates are talking about it. As much as I was trying to ignore it all, I found myself wondering which side I was on. Do I side with #MerryChristimasStarbucks, or is it really #JustACup? Being a leader of an anti-slavery organization, I came to the realization my opinion did not fit into either end of the spectrum. There are way too many angles to consider.
The negativity around #MerryChristmasStarbucks is sending the wrong kind of message. Coming from a retail background, I am too politically correct to agree with this kind of backlash. However, the opposing topic is giving too much of a futile, valueless impression…”It’s just a cup! You use it and throw it away when you’re done. Get over it!” I can’t get behind this type of thinking either. The social and environmental issues that are affecting us today are, in part, due to a lack of caring and over-consumption.
I appreciate the outpouring responses from various social activists and nonprofits. All taking this conflict as an opportunity to turn the conversation into something positive, and hopefully, change perceptions to get individuals to care about issues that matter. Immaterial as it may seem to fellow activists, clearly the “red cup controversy” has gotten everyone’s attention, so lets talk about it. Allow me to bring up some questions that have been burning inside me,
Who makes the cups?
Where are the cups manufactured?
Are the workers being paid a fair wage?
And lets not forget about the coffee…
Who harvests the coffee beans?
How old are the workers?
Are the workers paid a living wage?
And things we don’t even think about…
What material is the cup made out of?
How was that material developed? Where? By whom?
How was the red dye developed? Where? By whom?
I could keep going, but I think you can see where I am going with this. All of the lives that are involved in the making of this one cup matter. I say, if we are going to get angry at something and propose to start a movement, let it be about an issue that evokes necessary change and benefits the greater good. For the same price of one specialty drink or two small cups of coffee, you could ensure the freedom of one survivor of human slavery. Skip the line, avoid the controversy at least once a month, and give that amount to Durga Tree~
Kendra DeBree, Business Development Director