Weighing in on the sustainability practices of four Charleston coffee shops

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/alittletune/4717686556/a little tune

The Charleston Green Committee's Green Connection newsletter was sent out today, and the results from a Charleston coffee shop sustainability survey caught our eye. In case you aren't on their mailing list, here's how your favorite coffee shops stack up in the sustainability department.

See below for the full report:


Last week, we went to a handful of the coffee shops in the downtown area to learn more about their efforts to encourage sustainable practices in their business. Here is a brief highlight:

Black Tap recycles and supports the regional and local economy by:

  • buying honey from South Carolina, 
  • buying coffee roasted in Durham, NC, and 
  • purchasing their pastries locally. 
  • They also work to maintain impressive energy efficiency by using their multitude of windows for natural lighting and cross-circulation more than electric lighting and AC. 
  • They only turn on the AC in the summer and use electric lighting for a couple hours of the day! It creates a clean, fresh atmosphere for customers while saving energy. 
  • They offer a safe area to leave bikes and they are hoping to supply even more secure bike parking for staff and customers soon.

Kudu recycles and supports the regional and local economy by:

  • buying coffee that is roasted in neighboring North Carolina and purchasing their pastries locally. 
  • They also offer a shed to secure bikes for customers and staff. 
  • Once a month, they host Green Drinks events which serve as a networking opportunity for those interested in environmental discussion and brainstorming. 
  • They have an exceptional incentive for customers to use reusable mugs as well. If customers bring a mug purchased from Kudu, they will receive a refill of any beverage for only $1.50 which saves at least a dollar each time. Remember to bring in a reusable mug if you visit Kudu!

When first walking into Hope and Union, their use of natural light was pleasantly noticeable.

  • Their LEED certified building creates a relaxing atmosphere as well as it helps the environment. 
  • They recycle and buy local candy and pastries as well. 
  • Hope and Union also offers a unique incentive for customers to use reusable mugs rather than disposable ones. They only charge the small prices for any drink a customer orders, despite the size of their reusable cup. 
  • When customers do not bring in reusable cups, they are given compostable corn cups which are easier on the environment than Styrofoam or plastic.

My last stop for the survey was the Starbucks located on Calhoun Street. We highlighted their corporation's Green Report a few weeks ago but I wanted to see what our local store was practicing.

  • They recycle their milk jugs. 
  • They keep their lighting dimmed to reduce energy use and buy beans that are roasted in South Carolina. 
  • They offer a dime discount for customers with reusable cups.

I commonly heard while doing this survey that most coffee shops are willing to save their coffee grinds for any customer who would like to collect them for composting as long as they know who will pick them up and when they will be collected. If you are interested in receiving FREE, nutrient rich coffee grinds to enhance your compost, let your favorite local coffee shop know and there is a good chance they will be more than happy to help!!

Also, remember to talk to your favorite businesses and ask them how they are working to become more sustainable. It makes it easier for them to keep environmental efforts a high priority when they know their customers are concerned. As customers, what we care about matters. We can efficiently steer business practices in a sustainable direction so keep voicing environmental concerns!

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