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Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink?

October 8, 2008 - Steve Murch
The headline says it all: “Starbucks Wasting More Than 6 Million Gallons of Water a Day.” The subhead: “Amount of Water Lost Is Enough to Fill an Olympic Pool Every 83 Minutes.”

So screams the headline on a story at ABC’s news Web site (link to the right). Imagine, in this day of conservation ... (fill in the blank).

The Web site story states: “As a result of running water all day, every day at each of the company's 10,000 worldwide coffee emporiums, Starbucks wastes water in an amount The Sun estimated to be ‘enough daily water for the entire 2 million strong population of drought-hit Namibia in Africa or fill an Olympic pool every 83 minutes.’”

That’s enough to fill over 6,500 Olympic pools in a year. However, to put it into perspective (he says tongue-in-cheek) it would take over 27,000 years to drain the Great Lakes, which have over 6 quadrillion gallons (15 zeroes) of water.

The ABC News story is from Monday, using a story from The Sun, a British newspaper. The Sun’s story claims that using its estimates, you could “quell the thirst of a small African nation.” Starbucks, of course, defended its practice.

The company said it does so to clean utensils, wash away food residue and prevent germs from building up in the tap. The Sun first investigated it when customers asked a store employee about it, and the employee told them it was keep the pipes clean.

Now I’m all for being sanitary, but isn’t that beyond extreme. What’s baffling is the company was founded in Seattle, which is known as a rather conservation-friendly city.

It makes you wonder what the company’s water bills are like, and if they lowered their water bills, would they be willing to lower their prices?


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