Tips for Earth-Friendly Coffee Breaks
Whether you prefer your java in the morning, at noon or at night, most of us are more interested in getting our daily caffeine jolt than pondering whether our cup of joe is environmentally friendly. But even small changes in our coffee routines can add up to a lot less waste and a healthier planet!
Here are some easy steps you can take to make your next brew tasty, healthy, and earth-friendly.
- Invest in the perfect reusable mug and kick the Styrofoam disposable cup habit. Polystyrene isn’t biodegradable, and after just one use most cups will end up lingering in a landfill for centuries.
- Support local brewers and cafes – the less distance your coffee has traveled from farm to mug, the better.
- Resist the temptation to use individually packaged sugars, creamers, and throwaway stirrers. If your favorite coffee shop doesn’t offer alternatives, consider politely asking them to change their ways.
- Check for Fair Trade certification. Fair Trade labels ensure safe working conditions and fair compensation for farm workers. Many Fair Trade certified commodities are also grown without the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) or pesticides.
- Go organic and shade-grown. Coffee that has been certified organic is grown and processed without toxic chemicals, and shade-grown or bird-friendly certifications promote the preservation of migratory bird habitats on coffee plantations. Rainforest Alliance’s certification ensures a number of sustainable farming practices including shade coverage, water, and pesticide standards.
- Be your own barista. If you’re on the market for a new coffee maker, try a French press. Unlike most coffee machines, French presses are manual, don’t require paper filters, and use less water and energy per brew. While you’re at it, choose organic milk and fair trade sugar.
- Use only the amount of coffee grounds that you really need. If you’re grinding your own beans, use the shortest time possible to obtain your desired coffee consistency.
- Give your coffee grounds a second life - keep them handy in the kitchen to scrub grease off of pots and pans or try placing them in the refrigerator to absorb common odors. Turns out used coffee grounds also make great plant fertilizer! Toss them in with your compost heap or sprinkle them on soil to add a natural nitrogen boost.