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Starbucks employee sparks debate with photo of shift aftermath: 'Would it really be that hard?'

"It infuriates me."

"It infuriates me."

Photo Credit: iStock

These days, Starbucks is known for much more than its coffee. The iconic chain also serves up a wide variety of pastries and snacks to hungry customers.

However, one Starbucks employee recently took to Reddit to express frustration over the significant food waste generated by the store's pastry case.

What happened?

In a recent post on the r/starbucks subreddit, a barista shared a photo of a large garbage bin filled with unsold pastries.

"It infuriates me."
Photo Credit: Reddit

"It infuriates me how much food we waste when we could just have pictures in the pastry case, instead of tossing perfectly good pastries every day," the post read.

The post struck a nerve, garnering over 1,100 upvotes and sparking a lively discussion among fellow Starbucks workers and customers alike. Many echoed the original poster's sentiments, saying that the waste was maddening.

"How about just serve the food that is in the display case first and replace it after it's sold," one commenter suggested. "Would it really be that hard for Starbucks to do this?"

Why is food waste concerning?

When food goes to waste, so do all the resources that go into producing, packaging, and transporting it. Growing and shipping food uses huge amounts of land, water, and fuel. Food that ends up in landfills also generates methane, a potent polluting gas, as it decomposes.

In the United States alone, up to 40% of all food produced goes uneaten, according to the USDA. Meanwhile, millions of Americans face food insecurity. Donating excess food to those in need seems like a no-brainer, but strict food safety regulations often make this difficult for restaurants and cafes.

Is Starbucks doing anything about this?

To its credit, Starbucks has made efforts in recent years to cut down on waste.

In 2016, the company pledged that 100% of its U.S. company-operated stores would participate in a program to donate unsold food through a partnership with Feeding America. Starbucks says it has donated over 57 million meals since.

The company has also experimented with discounting food nearing its expiration date in some locations. However, judging by the recent viral Reddit post, there is still significant room for improvement when it comes to preventing food waste at the store level.

What's being done about food waste more broadly?

Thankfully, Starbucks is far from the only company taking aim at food waste. Popular chains like Kroger and Trader Joe's have robust food donation programs in place. Many grocery stores are also making it easier for customers to purchase oddly shaped or nearly expired foods at a discount.

On an individual level, we can all help reduce waste by being more mindful of our own food-purchasing habits and composting food scraps when possible. Supporting policies and organizations that fight food insecurity and make it easier for businesses to donate unsold goods is also key.

No one wants to see good food end up in the trash. Here's hoping posts like this employee's continue to raise awareness and spur positive changes.

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