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Starbucks puts charity into customers’ hands

coffee beans tree worker

Expanding its public commitment to sustainability, Starbucks said it will Tuesday begin donating one coffee tree to farmers for every bag of coffee beans purchased at its participating U.S. stores.

The “One Tree For Every Bag” program, which will last one year, aims to alleviate issues caused by crop-ravaging rust fungus in Central America, the company said. For each eligible customer purchase, Starbucks will donate 70 cents, the average cost to distribute one rust-resistant coffee tree, to non-profit group Conservation International.

“We have heard directly from farmers that helping them get new rust resistant trees will make the most impact (in their communities),” said Craig Russell, Starbucks’ executive vice president of global coffee. “We are figuring out the way to do that while offering our customers an opportunity to get involved.”

This program is far from Starbucks’ first stab at garnering positive sentiment by casting itself as a supporter of the communities that sustain its business. The company said it has invested more than $70 million to date toward aiding coffee-farming communities. Last year, its Mexico arm implemented a similar coffee-tree restoration plan, since distributing more than 180,000 rust-resistant trees.

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