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I love my morning cup of coffee, it is something I look forward to even when I go to bed. And I am not the only one. Coffee is consumed every day by a large portion of the western population.
Coffee is grown over millions of acres to provide the 12 billion pounds of coffee produced annually. It is a large crop with a large impact. I want to feel good when I have my morning cup. I want to know that my daily habit is not having a negative effect on the planet and the lives of others.
Learning to be an Eco-friendly coffee drinker can help with water pollution, save energy and reduce waste. If you are going to drink coffee everyday, you want to make sure you are doing it in the most green way possible.
First off, you must buy organic, fair-trade coffee. Conventional coffee is one of the most chemically treated foods in the world.
Conventional, Non-Organic Coffee:
- Is heavily sprayed with pesticides (including DDT!)
- Uses unsustainable petroleum-based fertilizers to grow
- Is treated with herbicides, fungicides and insecticides
- Is grown in clear-cuts that destroy rainforests
- Results in poor land management and soil erosion
- Is bought from coffee farmers at unfair prices
The environment as well as the people suffer from this toxic overload and mass production. Crops are heavily sprayed, and farmers are exposed to these chemicals daily. Runoff water is polluted and the surrounding communities are impacted by the chemical residues.
Coffee is a shade-loving plant, but a crop grown in thick forest is difficult to tend and harvest. Most conventional coffee comes from hybrid plants that are developed to flourish in open sun. Rainforest is cut down to make room for coffee plantations, destroying flora and fauna habitats.
The dairy and sugar industries have their own unsustainable practices. If you add sugar and/or cream to your coffee, it is healthier for you and the planet if you use organic.
Why Buy Organic Sugar:
- Conventional sugar mostly comes from genetically modified sugar beets.
- Conventional sugar is treated with various chemicals to clarify and refine it.
- Organic sugar retains its mineral content.
- Organic sugar is produced with sustainable land and harvest practices.
Why Buy Organic Dairy:
- Non-organic dairy cows are often treated with genetically engineered hormones called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) or recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST).
- Dairy cows are fed pesticide treated feed.
Kurigs and other machines use pods that get thrown out. These pods are not recyclable, require massive amounts of packaging and create tremendous amounts of garbage. According to The Atlantic, "In 2014, enough K-Cups were sold that if placed end-to-end, they would circle the globe 10.5 times."
K-cups and pods are also more expensive. They are essentially charging you around $40 for a pound of coffee!
If you use K-Pods, you are paying $40 for a pound of coffee
Single-serve machines aren't all bad. They waste less coffee and less water, and they use less energy than drip machines that are left on for hours. If you own a Kurig or other single serve coffee machine, look for reusable filters and fill them with your own coffee.
Arabica and Robusta are the two different varieties of coffee used commercially. Arabica is the more Eco-friendly choice. Robusta tends to be mass produced in deforested areas using large amounts of chemicals.
Look for 100% Arabica varieties.
Unless we live in Brazil or Columbia, we can't buy our coffee beans locally. However, we can keep our purchases more local by buying from local roasters.
By supporting local roasters, you are keeping more money in your community and reducing your environmental footprint.
Using a travel mug for your to-go coffee will save the planet from massive amounts of garbage. Paper and styrofoam cups are a huge burden on the planet.
- According to the EPA, 25 billion styrofoam cups are thrown away each year in the US.
- Paper cups are lined with a plastic called polythylene and are not recyclable.
- 20 million trees that are cut down each year for paper coffee cups.
- Plastic coffee lids leach styrene into your coffee.
- The glue used to hold paper cups together leaches melamine into your coffee.
Look for ceramic or stainless steel coffee mugs. Buy a couple and keep one in your car so that you remember to use it when you are out and about.
An Awesome Deal
I just bought this hot or cold beverage mug that comes with 2 stainless steel drinking straws.
Did you know that paper coffee filters sometimes contain a possibly carcinogenic chemical called epichlorohydrin? When mixed with water, epichlorohydrin hydrolyzes to 3-MCPD, which has been shown to cause cancer in animals.
Paper coffee filters are easy to ditch. Switching to a reusable filter is one way, another way is to brew your coffee (or tea) in a french press or Bialetti.
I have used both a french press and a Bialetti. I use my french press to make loose leaf tea and I use my Bialetti if I want a strong cup of coffee. I even bring them camping!
By choosing to forgo electric coffee makers, you are reducing your electricity usage. Plus, many drip coffee makers don't seem to last longer than a year.
Throw you coffee grounds in the compost, or reuse them to feed your house plants or keep cats away.
How to Reuse Coffee Grounds:
Coffee grounds are an excellent source of nitrogen. They are a great choice for fertilizing plants because they have a neutral pH.
Add coffee grounds to your house plants. Start by adding 1 teaspoon of coffee grounds around each plant. Observe how your plants react and add more each week until they stop showing signs of improvement.
Use coffee grounds to keep cats from using your garden as a litter box. Cats don't like the smell of coffee. Coffee grounds will also keep ants away because the nitrogen burns their legs.
How do you green your coffee routine? Make sure you share this article with all of your coffee drinking friends!