The whole “green” thing has been steadily gaining popularity for a while now. Almost anyone you meet is doing something to reduce their footprint whether its for morals, because its trendy, or just for the tax break. Businesses are going green, products are making an effort to use less packaging, cities are putting plans into place to support recycling or ban plastic grocery bags. It’s a good thing too. We’ve all seen Wall-E right? So, i aimed to do at least one thing this year, even if it was a small thing, to green one of my own habits. And, why not the biggest most obtrusive habit I have? Coffee. So far I’ve only taken a little step, but I found 5 different ways to make your daily coffee habit far less impactful on the environment. You may even save yourself a little money too!
1. Skip on the paper filters.
This was my little step! 🙂 Guess what, this baby cost me $3.99 at the grocery store, just a dollar more than the paper filters I usually buy, and it’ll last me for 3 years. Anyone want to do the math? And, on top of saving money, I’m eliminating 2 discarded paper filters a day. That’s 2,190 paper filters saved over the lifespan of this one re-usable filter.
2. Pick up a reusable cup.
If you’re more likely to run to Starbucks than to fire up the coffee maker, this is for you. You don’t realize how much waste comes from all the paper cups people get from Starbucks until they come out with reports that explain the millions, and in some cases, billions of pounds of waste that can be saved each year by recycling or using reusable cups. It’s insane! I guess my one cup a day doesn’t seem so big, but when millions and billions of customers are tossing a cup a day…that adds up.
The money saver here? Many places including Starbucks will give you a discount if you bring in your own cup. Whole Foods gives you a whopping $0.25 off. It doesn’t take many of those to pay for one reusable cup.
3. Reuse coffee grounds.
Starbucks (sorry to keep using the corporate giant here, but everyone knows who they are) gives away free 5 pound bags of coffee grounds in their stores to eliminate the bulk of it going into landfills. You re-use your grounds at home too. Coffee grounds are notorious for being a great fertilizer for acid loving plants, and can be used for a number of other things like deodorizing a refrigerator or as an exfoliating scrub, even a celluite reducer! Check out this article for 15 ways to use up those grounds.
4. Splurge on the organic, fair-trade, or shade-grown stuff.
Organic coffee is getting easier and easier to find these days, simply based on customer demand. The world’s concern with the amount of chemicals and artificial everything that we’re consuming has prevailed in many markets. Organic is probably the easiest to find and, although it’s more expensive, it’ll be the smallest jump in price above your regular bag (or can?). Along the same lines, shade grown coffee is grown as coffee should be naturally: under the shade of other plants and trees. Among other long-term environmental benefits, having it in the shade instead of in full-sun like it is on commercial farms allows the growers to use less fertilizer, chemicals etc. to keep it growing and flourishing.
Fair-Trade more of a commodity, but well worth the extra price. The reason the price is higher is because Fair-Trade coffee is purchased directly from the coffee growers for a higher (read: fair) price which in turn affords them better quality of life for themselves and their communities.
5. Go small or go home.
If you’re a singleton or the single coffee drinker in your house like me, no need to go for the big honkin’ 10 cup coffee maker. Whether you’re making 2 cups or 10, that big thing is going to use just as much energy to heat up the water. Go for a smaller 4 cup coffee take a look into the many different “single cup brewers” out there. Keep in mind though, while the Keurig or any other “pod brewer” is certainly popular, you’ll spend more money and create more waste on those k-cups or pods than you’ll likely mean to, or want to. And, unfortunately I’ve found that the “create your own k-cup” pack that allows you to use your own ground coffee produces an extremely weak cup. It brews too quickly to get any real flavor out of it.
Try out something like the Black ‘n Decker Brew ‘n Go or eliminate electricity entirely and go with a personal sized french press or something like the Aerobie AeroPress (it also makes espresso!). Note: I do note own or exclusively endorse either of these, I just found them online doing a Consumer Reports search for good single cup brewers.
For an added green-boost look for features like permanent filters and automatic shut-off. It’s the little things that count.
So, who says you can’t love your coffee and love the earth too, eh? Just a few tiny investments (most of which eventually pay for the themselves) and you’re doing your part to cut out pounds of waste, cut down your electricity usage, and help promote organic farming and fair coffee trade.
I think I might just have to grab a cup right now.
Question of the Day: How green is your coffee habit?