Starbucks cup controversy distracts from bigger issues

Bridgette Windell

America: a country where a paper cup can become a celebrity.

Facebook, Twitter, BuzzFeed and other platforms were flooded with accounts of the terribly blank red Starbucks cup. How bizarre it is that an inanimate object can inspire such intense feelings and create a social media storm? Let’s settle the Starbucks red cup debacle once and for all.


To the Christians who said that Starbucks is stripping the true meaning of Christmas:

In the past, Starbucks cups have pictured snowflakes, reindeer, holly, etc., all of which are not religious symbols. In fact, reindeer are a pagan symbol. Unlike some businesses such as Chick-fil-a, Starbucks is not associated with any religion. Starbucks can’t be “stripping” its cups of Christmas if there weren’t any biblical references to begin with, and even if they did, they had the right to do so.

According to the First Amendment, we have a right to choose our religion freely — as does a corporate company. If you do identify as a Christian, then the base of the holiday is to celebrate the birth of Christ, and I highly doubt that a red cup with a picture of a reindeer is going to help you do that.

Starbucks purposefully made the cups to be more inclusive. The 2015 red cup design is not a new concept — this year’s design was created as a throwback to when the cups were sans design and simply red. The cups are supposed to be accompanied with a Sharpie at Starbucks locations so that customers can draw any religious symbol 0r unreligious symbol of their choosing on their cup. Christianity is not the only religion, and I think most people know that. To say that Christianity should be the only displayed religion, whether that be on a cup or not, is hardly fair. Having religious freedom goes hand-in-hand with having respect for other religions. Just because you may practice one religion doesn’t mean that others are lesser than yours. Ignorance is not bliss, it’s inconsiderate.

To Donald Trump, who suggested boycotting Starbucks:

Mr. Trump undoubtedly knows how to play the media to his advantage. The social media storm surrounding the cup allowed the perfect opportunity for Trump to suggest boycotting Starbucks, because, according to Trump, when he is president, “We’re all going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” Although a boycott against Starbucks might not happen, a boycott against the color of a cup seems rather wasteful. If Mr. Trump wants to boycott, he should stand for something more. How about we boycott Starbucks for better reasons other than the omission of corporate created holiday designs? Let’s boycott Starbucks for something that creates social change. Let’s boycott single-use cups. Let’s boycott large corporate coffee. Let’s boycott anything other than a simple cup design. 

To the general public, religious or not:

What have we come to as a culture? People actually argued over a cup — a red paper cup. Religious or not, the color and design of a cup should not dictate your holiday experience. The true meaning of Christmas does not reside in corporate-created decorations. Your cup should not matter. Think of the good that could have come from using our voices for good versus wasting it on a Starbucks cup. Instead of taking a stance on an inanimate object, let’s put that same amount of time, energy and awareness into an issue that actually affects lives.

If you are as tired of the Starbucks controversy as I am, skip the red cup completely. Fort Collins is full of local coffee shops. Grab a newspaper and a cup of coffee from Bean Cycle, Harbinger, Mugs or Red Tail Coffee. It will save your mental sanity and support local business. 

After the terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, it’s clear to see that the color of our cups should be the least of our concerns. The holidays are a time to spread love and peace, and the world could use a lot more of that. Use your voice for something bigger. 


Collegian Columnist Bridgette Windell can be reached at or on Twitter @Bridgette_Rae.