Hipster weddings are not the only place you should be able to use a mason jar. Since starting this zero waste journey, I have been carrying around at least one mason jar with me at all times. It’s spill proof, plastic free and just like those weddings – I look super cute using it. But lately I’ve hit a roadblock with my cuteness, and my mason jars.
I love matcha smoothies and have been going to Smoothie King every since my boyfriend (originally from the east coast) told me that the smoothies are better than Jamba Juice and it was an answer to his prayers to be back in a state that served the essence of happiness that is, Smoothie King.
The store next to my house has been so amazing and has accepted the “weird jar lady” and always takes my giant 40 oz mason jar. I told them about my plastic free life and how I didn’t want to use the provided styrofoam and plastic cups. They have always been so awesome and I’m so happy with my experience with those employees. But I veered off my normal path and went to another store that was not so down with the zero waste life.
I asked them to use my mason jar instead of putting my smoothie inside their cups and he said he couldn’t because it was a health code violation. He also felt the need to point out that it was gross because he didn’t know where my jar has been and if my jar was dirty or not. Just to be clear, my jar was sparkling clean, but I’m pretty sure it’s my business if I want to use a hella gross jar or not. I worked at Starbucks for too long and I had customers with coffee stained mugs, with thermoses that still had DAYS old latte in them, and people with the same cussing paper cup they used two days ago at the Starbucks down the road – I always took it. It doesn’t hurt me and makes those customers happy. If you want to put a fresh latte in a thermos with old latte in it, I’ll rinse it with hot water and you can go on with your bad self.
Naturally, I was livid. Not only were they not accepting my jar, but they insulted my way of life. So I contacted Smoothie King customer support, tweeted them and tagged them in an instagram post that also included the red faced angry emoji. Yeah – it was serious. Smoothie King got back to me almost immediately on social media and only took a day or two to reply to my email. The customer service representative, Jason, basically said the same thing as the Smoothie King store employee – it’s a health code violation.
That just made me more mad. If I was understanding everyone correctly at this point, Starbucks, one of the biggest corporations in the world was simply ignoring a giant health code violation and offering discounts encouraging customers to violate it??? (Yes, those three question marks were necessary.) Why was Starbucks allowed to violate this health code and Smoothie King so strict on it?
Jason told me if I had any questions about the violation, to contact the Tennessee Department of Health. So I did.
That’s when Hugh got back to me with this little gem:
That’s right – no violation. As you can read, he did say that any business can refuse a personal container. What’s makes me mad about Smoothie King is that they blamed a health code violation that doesn’t exist. It’s all a personal internal company choice. Which is fine for them, but don’t lie to me and blame “the man” when it’s completely safe to refill my VERY CLEAN jar. Just ask my main man Howard Schultz.
I also wanted to clarify to you all what those code references were at the end – just to make sure it wasn’t like a secret line in the document that read “unless it’s Audrey and her mason jar. Don’t serve her” or something like that.
Below is the section 120-23-01-.04 Hugh referenced when saying the contamination-free process had to follow.
Basically stating that the blender has to have a lip on it to prevent spilling down the side and the lip of the blender can’t touch my jar. End of rules. That’s it. I can use my super cute mason jar forever and always as long as there is no touching. To be honest, even if there was I don’t see the issue. Blenders should be washed between each drink so where’s the contamination? But that’s neither here nor there.
In any case, I’m glad that I was vindicated. I am emailing Jason at Smoothie King back and asking why he thinks it’s health code violation and if this new information will change their rules at all. Can I use my mason jar now, please? I’ll let you know what he says. I also was denied to use my own jar at the smoothie counter at Whole Foods, so I will be contacting them as well. I just feel for the hourly workers. Almost all of them love my jar and are interested in a plastic free life, but are getting yelled at because of what their boss told them to say. Obviously excluding the rude dude who thought I had some nasty jar cooties. -__-
Just another day in the plastic fight. A surprising positive that came out of all of this was Jason telling me that Smoothie King’s cups and lids are recyclable. I guess that’s a start. He said paper is worse for smoothies and the environment. That paper mills are evil and emit harmful chemicals and gases. Calm down dude. I agree paper cups are bad as well, (everyone should be a weird jar lady) but I could clearly see this was his attempt to retaliate after being backed into a corner. Jason, your manhood was not in question – just asking about your cups. But for the record, my jar is bigger than your cup.