Starbucks’ Earth Month initiative slammed as 'greenwash' | Totally Vegan Buzz
PETA organizes sit-ins to protest against Starbucks’ unfair ‘vegan tax’
Image: pio3 / shutterstock

“Starbucks’ empty pledges to help save the planet are soured by its greedy decision to milk its eco-minded customers…”

Starbucks has come under fire for its new Starbucks Earth Month Game.

In celebration of Earth Month, the global coffee chain is offering its Starbucks Rewards members a year’s supply of free dairy-free drinks throughout the month of April.

The game is part of Starbucks’ Plant Positive initiative – a sustainability plan to slash its carbon, water, and waste footprints by half by 2030. 

‘Empty pledges’

However, vegan charity PETA has accused Starbucks of “greenwashing”, since it refuses to drop the surcharge for its non-dairy alternatives despite acknowledging that cow’s milk is the company’s biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions.

PETA Managing Director Ingrid Newkirk said: “Starbucks’ empty pledges to help save the planet are soured by its greedy decision to milk its eco-minded customers by charging them extra for nondairy drinks on Earth Day and every other day.”

 “The dairy industry is contributing to the climate crisis while taking calves away from their loving mothers, and Starbucks is ignoring appeals to drop its vegan milk surcharge.”

Starbucks’ Earth Month initiatives slammed as 'greenwash'
Image: Manu Padilla /

‘Putting profits over the planet’

Last month, PETA demonstrators protested in front of the company’s headquarters with a life-size prop of a “dead calf” in a pool of blood inside a Starbucks cup.

Representatives attended the chain’s virtual annual meeting to renew pressure on Starbucks’ CEO Kevin Johnson – who leading the ‘sustainability’ movement acknowledged that plant-based milk is ‘a big part of the solution’ when it comes to reducing its carbon footprint.

“Despite its lip service to sustainability, the proof is in the pudding: Starbucks is putting profits over the planet,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said at the time.

 “PETA is calling on the company to stop penalizing people who care about animals and the environment by ending this surcharge immediately.”

Celebrity support

The charity’s call against vegan milk upcharge has been backed by a slew of celebrities including award-winning actor Alan Cumming.

The acclaimed actor wrote a letter to Starbucks Canada Senior Vice President Lori Digulla.

It stated: “More than a year ago, Starbucks acknowledged that cow’s milk is the company’s biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions.

“Yet it continues to penalize customers for making green and humane choices by charging them extra for vegan milk…

“If Starbucks really wants to help the planet, it must do more than just talk about its goals. It’s time to take action.”


PETA has also launched a petition– which says Starbucks should be ‘encouraging customers to choose animal-friendly, vegan milks rather than cow’s milk’.

The petition has attracted more than 142,173 signatures so far.

It states: “Many other chains—including Wawa, Panera Bread, Pret A Manger, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Noah’s New York Bagels, Philz Coffee, and Costa Coffee—already offer dairy-free milk at no extra charge.

“By charging an additional fee for vegan milks, Starbucks is likely deterring some people from trying them in their drinks. Everyone should be able to order nondairy milk at no extra charge.”

You can urge Starbucks to stop charging extra for dairy-free milk here.

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