Starbucks Partners and Customers Work Together to Improve Communities in China and Korea


Almost every major city around the world has some neighborhoods with drab, concrete walls that make the area look uninviting or even unsafe. It’s amazing what a difference splashes of colorful paint can make.

Recently, more than 300 Starbucks China partners (employees) and volunteers gathered to transform the Hongmei Community in Shanghai. After sweeping the streets, they began painting murals on concrete walls bordering several roads.  Images of green grass and trees, bright flowers and rainbows, smiling children riding school busses and balloons floating through the blue sky appeared on the walls within hours.

The volunteer work is a part of Starbucks Global Month of Service. Although community service is a year-round commitment, there is an emphasis on the month of April when partners, customers and nonprofit groups unite to work on an estimated 2,000 projects in 40 countries.

“Starbucks has been constantly committed to community service,” said Angel Yu, vice president of Starbucks China Partner Resources Organization. “We hope to build a long-term relationship with the Hongmei Community to help it thrive.”

In Beijing, more than 900 volunteers – 440 Starbucks partners and almost 500 customers and community volunteers – completed dozens of projects this month. Along with painting murals, they planted a vegetable garden for 50 elderly families and taught classes on environmental education and personal safety for 570 students.

Throughout Starbucks China and Asia Pacific region, partners reach out to their customers and communities in relevant ways. That care was visibly obvious in Seoul, where Starbucks Coffee Korea hosted an environmental campaign in support of the city government’s year-long environmental initiative.

For the “Seoul in Bloom” event, about 100 partners handed out Starbucks tumblers in exchange for paper cups filled with coffee grounds. They also filled collected disposable cups with coffee-ground compost and made a huge banner that read, “Wasted paper cups reborn as flowers with 50,000 collected paper cups.”

The effort to keep paper cups out of the city’s garbage had an impact on Starbucks customers who received one of the coffee compost-filled cups.  

“These flower pots filled with coffee grounds are so lovely,” said Su-a Kwon. “I’d like to transform the used paper cups into mini potted plants even at home.”

Another customer, Eun-mi Lee, said, “I participated in this environmental campaign because I like to help protect and preserve the environment. I will use my own reusable cup for coffee now instead of the paper cups.”

Through community service projects in China and Korea – and thousands more around the globe – Starbucks hopes to contribute more than one million volunteer hours per year by 2015. That aspiration is one of Starbucks Global Responsibility Goals, which were designed to help make communities stronger through ethical sourcing, environmental stewardship and community engagement.

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Thriving partners: How Starbucks is radically improving the retail partner experience