I was concerned to receive an e-mail recently which informed me that Starbucks, who have soya milk in their coffee bars to accommodate vegans, were literally binning all their old, earthenware mugs, to replace them with "bone china" mugs.
Now, I don't know about you, but I don't buy "bone china" products. The name says it all, doesn't it? Many years ago, a trip around a pottery factory, where trolleys of bones stood awaiting use in the manufacturing process, confirmed my fears.
So when I read about the "improvements" that Starbucks were planning, I wrote to them to ask them to reconsider. Of course, I knew that my lone voice wouldn't carry any weight, but there are a lot of vegetarians and vegans out there, and who knew how many of them might also complain?
I received a reply from Starbucks informing me: "Please be assured that we have checked with our supplier who has confirmed that our new mugs do not contain animal bone ash and that a synthetic material is used in its place."
It sort of begs the question how they can be described as "bone china" if they don't contain bone, doesn't it? Do they retain the name "bone china" to keep the cachet of the lighter, "premium" product? Even though it's inaccurate? Is that legal?
Maybe honesty is the best policy. After all, if a product purports to be made from something containing bones, vegans and vegetarian will shun it. There's a whole new customer base out there for manufacturers who devise a new name for their lighter, stronger china which doesn't contain animal remains.