A case against Pink Drinks

Independent businesses benefit consumers

Kate Bernstein, Staffer

It’s a familiar sight—you walk into your first period math class and there it is. More commonly, there they are. Those plastic cups, surrounding a light brown, sometimes purple or pink substance, typically iced, typically overridden with dairy and sugar. They can be found on at least three to four desks per classroom daily—a testament to the wild popularity of both consumer convenience and the epidemic of globalization.  

The issue here is ever-present: your tall chestnut praline latte with milk substitute and two Splenda is not worth the harm committed by multinational chains like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. And before you roll your eyes, I’m not saying we need to boycott these companies entirely and oust them from our routines; rather, I mean to say that we should embrace the benefits of supporting small businesses and attempt to limit our consumption from companies that could be considered a threat to our communities. 

We all share an obligation to protect our surrounding community. I can’t think of a better way to do so than to support small businesses like your neighborhood coffee shops. In doing so, you are investing directly in your local economy, while subsidizing unique concepts that operate beyond the corporate mainstream.   

You are also fostering relationships with business owners and the families that depend on them for their own livelihoods. After all, they aren’t just faceless “businesses,” depending on an algorithm for commercial success—they are run by people in the form of our neighbors, acquaintances, and friends. They create economic opportunity for those in our community who work behind their counters, and for other local businesses that profit from enhanced commercial development within the surrounding area. For instance, many local businesses buy from other local businesses to source their supplies, products, and raw materials. It’s a chain effect. 

This idea of using locally produced items has a multitude of benefits, one being environmental; by using locally sourced products rather than the huge suppliers used by corporate chains, many small businesses are limiting their ecological footprint, using less fuel and helping to protect biodiversity. Though this may not be true for all small companies, as affordability ranks most important, many independents in the Tampa marketplace are doing their best to have a positive environmental impact (for example, Kahwa Coffee, which is roasted and packaged locally in Tampa, uses compostable plastic). Another benefit to sourcing locally is, of course, the boost to your community’s local economy. 

Local businesses take risks all the time—starting a business is a complicated and often scary thing to attempt. Supporting these businesses shows that you care for the owners and their stories, for their bravery and creative expression. It lends encouragement to the ideal of American entrepreneurship, that taking risks and stepping outside the box leads to reward. Whenever a chain moves into a neighborhood, it displaces many of these independent businesses that just can’t compete. 

In some ways, a local coffee shop is a mirror reflecting the community itself. They put a little of their character, integrity, sweat and blood into every cup they serve, and it comes across in the prevailing quality of their products. These businesses can offer a variety of unique products and services that elude the mass chains that tend to be averse to risk-taking. They serve as our commercial foundation, and in return we owe them our utmost support.