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I was at (Oakland, CA) Rockridge Trader Joe's today. I have been purchasing less and less from them because most of their products are encased in too much plastic.
I discovered that a worker replaced the coffee stirrers with raw Spaghetti sticks…so brilliant! I want to praise places like TJ's when they make incremental changes…though they have a long, long way to go.
I will now utilize these compostable stirrers for a variety of beverages in my events and meetings…..now if we could get a brilliant, cheap alternative for straws!!
I hope the Trader Joe's customers aren't celiac or have a wheat allergy! Spaghetti has gluten, and those of us who are gluten free would rather not have spaghetti in our coffee!
i think that approach is neither brilliant nor cheap. it takes time to grow, harvest, and ship spaghetti, and if everyone started using them as coffee stirrers you'd be discarding a considerable amount of food that could otherwise be eaten.
if you drink coffee often and are concerned with the impact of coffee stirrers, why not carry a set of stainless steel camping utensils? as an example, REI sells a set of a fork, knife, and spoon for $7.50.
@ Chris: Thanks, and I appreciate your concern, as I am also completely gluten-free. Since the stirrer was only in my coffee for 3 seconds I took note of whether I had any reactions, and I did not. But yes, encouraging stores to purchase gluten-free pasta is important, and will make a great idea more brilliant!
I never use the stirrers at Trader Joe's. If I want sugar (don't always) I put it in the cup, add a little coffee, swirl it around a 2-3 seconds then fill up. (Cream seems to stir itself in just fine.)
I'm loving this discussion because it shows there are multiple sides to every alternative and that no disposable products are without their environmental impact. I checked BuyGreen, and they do have FSC-certified wooden coffee stirrers (http://shrsl.com/?~3sbv) which would be fine for people with celiac disease but cost a bunch of money. I'm guessing TJ's is using pasta because it's cheap. My experience with gluten-free pasta is that it falls apart easily -- not sure it would work for stirring coffee. They should certainly offer a gluten-free alternative for those who ask -- as long as it's not made of plastic.
Of course, as Jay suggested, all of us who care should carry a set of reusable utensils with us all the time so we never have to weigh the pros and cons of various types of disposable products. Even something as small as a spork could be used to stir coffee. But when we forget (as is so easy to do -- especially in the beginning stages of living plastic-free), it would be awesome if stores stepped up and offered the most eco-friendly alternatives -- free of plastics AND allergens.
Thanks, Beth. I typed my reply in a bit of an emotional fervor. It sounded more like an attack, and was meant to be an open suggestion. I appreciate you seeing the bigger picture.
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