| By Laurie Britton |
Coffee production around the globe is massive. It’s one of the most widely-traded commodities in the world—with tens of billions of pounds produced annually in over 50 countries. This makes it very difficult to be a completely environmentally-friendly industry; just think of how much fossil fuels are burned simply transporting coffee around the world.
However, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do our part in reducing our own carbon footprint as coffee lovers. Here are five tips to be a more eco-friendly coffee drinker today as we celebrate Earth Day and every day during the year. Just these relatively small actions can have a tremendous impact on the environment.
Buy Only Certified Organic Coffee
The reason organic coffee is the only way to go for us and why we go through all of the trouble and sometimes very painstaking process of being a 100 percent certified organic coffee company, is that organic coffee is not treated with any of the pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and synthetic fertilizers in which all conventional (non-organic) coffee is treated. This contaminates the air, water, and land, and also directly affects the health of the farmers, the surrounding communities, and ultimately the people who end up consuming it.
Invest In A Reusable Coffee Mug
Disposable styrofoam, paper, and plastic cups clog our landfills since most of them are non-recyclable due to the materials from which they are made. There are some really fantastic reusable insulated mugs out there that not only will save extra waste from going into our landfills, but also keeps your coffee nice and hot (or cold).
Look For Compostable Disposable Cups
If you’re not too keen on investing in a reusable coffee mug, or if you often forget to bring it as you’re rushing out the door for work, then try to find a coffee shop that uses certified compostable disposable cups. Most of the paper cups used in coffee shops out there, believe it or not, are non-recyclable and not biodegradable because they are lined with petroleum to keep the liquid contents from seeping out of the seams. The difference with certified compostable cups is that they are lined with non-harmful organic materials made from plants.
Use Metal Spoons and Liquid Sugar Instead of Wooden Stir Sticks and Sugar Packets
This undoubtedly classifies me as a huge tree-hugger in the eyes of many people (which I’m not ashamed of), but one of my biggest pet peeves and something that I consider to be extremely wasteful is when I see the garbage in a cafe full of hundreds of single-use wooden stir sticks and countless paper sweetener packets. For those people who like cream and sugar in their coffee, there is no need to kill trees in order to sweeten and stir milk into your coffee when you could just use a reusable metal spoon instead and use liquid sugar, honey, or agave nectar.
Use Permanent Coffee Filters or Compostable Paper Filters
If you have a drip coffee maker at home, try a permanent coffee filter, which are normally made of stainless steel, instead of the traditional paper variety. You’ll cut down on waste and this filter also allows more of the coffee oils into the cup. If that’s not your preference, then you can also easily find biodegradable paper filters.
Additionally, there are many other coffee brewing methods out there that do not use paper filters, such as using a French Press or even an AeroPress. Whatever you do, please try to avoid single-serve coffee makers that use coffee pods. Those produce a tremendous amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills and our oceans despite how convenient they might seem. According to an article in the New York Times, last year alone, there were more than 9 billion coffee pods sold, which if placed end-to-end, would circle the globe roughly 10 times.
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Certified organic from day one, Laurie founded Cafe Virtuoso in 2008 with the vision of bringing a level of quality to coffee and tea previously unavailable in San Diego. Her passion and dedication ensures each business decision is based on being socially and ethically responsible and is acutely involved in every aspect of what it means to be truly sustainable.