The Yosemite Starbucks from the outside is inconspicuous enough with a sign. Photo: Starbucks

Last week, the international mega coffee chain Starbucks opened their first coffee shop inside a U.S. national park. The sign-less shop is inside the recently-remodeled Yosemite Valley Lodge (now known as Base Camp Eatery) within Yosemite National Park.

Back in January, we reported on a petition that had been started by a former trail guide in opposition to the plan for bringing a Starbucks to Yosemite. That petition garnered more than 25,000 signatures, but it did not deter the plan.

“I understand that they are trying to improve the infrastructure and make it better than it used to be,” Freddy Brewster, the former Yosemite trail guide who started the petition, told the Guardian. “But it is representative of what our culture is becoming. The government is increasingly dependent on major corporations. Time and time again.”

The first Starbucks within a U.S. national park is also LEED certified. Photo: Starbucks

The Starbucks Yosemite location does achieve LEED certification, which marks the first retail location within Yosemite National Park to do so. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the world's most widely used green building rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Last week, Starbucks announced a plan to develop ideas for a recyclable cup. The single-use cups Starbucks is infamous for are not recyclable since they house a layer of plastic.

As Treehugger points out, “Starbucks is notorious for generating vast quantities of waste – approximately 4 billion coffee cups per year – that are not recyclable. The company has failed to prioritize the development of a fully recyclable cup, despite repeated promises to do so over the past decade.”

An iconic Yosemite National Park view. Photo: André Cook/Pexels

Still, this could be a turning point for the behemoth coffee maker. And on a rainy day last week, The Guardian noted that some Yosemite visitors were happy for the new Starbucks.

“I think it's good,” Tom Collin told The Guardian. “Because no matter what Starbucks you go to it's all the same. Same quality, and you know what you are getting as soon as you walk in.”

Whether this is the beginning of corporate entities wrapping their hands around the national parks like Brewster and others warn remains to be seen. It could very well be the step that a corporation like Starbucks needs to become more responsible to the environment.

If you happen to stop in at the Yosemite Starbucks, be a better national park visitor and bring your own reusable mug – after all, little efforts go a long way.

Do opt for the reusable mug — or bring your own! Photo: Starbucks

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