I moved to Great Barrington in part because it had a nice coffee shop, and we are a long way from the nearest Starbucks. But I’ve long been intrigued by Starbucks as a business, especially because of the community angle: plenty of people argue that chains destroy the sense of community and local economic interdependence, yet Starbucks becomes a community center, too (as do many Barnes & Noble stores).
The larger economic impact of chains remains a truly important issue, but as Starbucks has become my office on the road–thanks to T-Mobile wi-fi–I find myself thinking about smaller issues of plastic and paper, for example. I’m in a Starbucks on the mesa in Santa Barbara right now but last week I was in one in Boston and heard a student lecturing his friends about how evil the company is (as he drank his mocha latte, naturally) because they don’t buy Fair Trade coffee.
I guess it’s not so obvious that we need to campaign for Starbucks to walk the talk as it was in the campaigns against McDonalds, but corporate responsibility is, surely, even more important to a company like Starbucks. (Please don’t get the idea that I keep track of every campaign like this or am up to date on progress: if you have information and suggestions, please add them here!)