Brilliant alternative to coffee stirrers | Plastic-Free Discussion Board

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Brilliant alternative to coffee stirrers
indra m
June 19, 2013 - 11:45 pm

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… if we could get a brilliant, cheap alternative for straws!!

June 20, 2013 - 7:40 am

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!

June 21, 2013 - 8:00 am

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.

problem solved.

indra m
June 21, 2013 - 9:09 am

@ 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!

June 21, 2013 - 10:07 am

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.)

Beth Terry
405 Posts
June 22, 2013 - 10:28 am

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 ( 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.

June 24, 2013 - 11:07 am

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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