We live in an age where people are becoming more aware of climate change. As our consciousness of our carbon footprint evolves, some of us are trying to embrace ways to minimize the environmental impact we have on the planet.
From recycling, reducing to reusing, most of us know what needs to be done; however, sometimes we overlook certain habits in our lives.
Let’s take our coffee habit; for example, the coffee industry’s environmental impact throughout the supply chain is huge! Fortunately, the consumer can make a difference when adapting to some small changes.
The Effect Of The Coffee Industry On Our Planet
There is no doubt that the coffee industry is part of global heating, reduced biodiversity, and climate instability. Of course, this does not mean that the coffee industry is all bad. After all, it is one of the most popular beverages globally, which means that this trade is good from an economic standpoint.
Nonetheless, the shift from shade-grown coffee to more intensive styles of framing have increased the environmental impact that coffee farming has today.
When it comes to agriculture and climate change, it is a vicious cycle as one affects the other. For instance, as climate instability increases, the number of arable land declines, and pests and diseases thrive in more extensive areas. Other effects like unpredictable weather patterns can also impact the coffee ripening process, resulting in coffee quality issues. Consequently, farmers might need to make use of methods that are not sustainable, and so the cycle continues.
Most of us already understand the impact of the supply chain on the environment, which includes packaging and shipping. Many times, the coffee we drink travels thousands of miles from where it was produced, so one can only imagine the significant impact this has on the planet.
Unfortunately, there is little we can do about how coffee is being farmed and the methods suppliers use to get it on the shelves. However, as consumers, we can make informed decisions that can help reduce energy consumption, waste volumes, and overall carbon footprint.
So if you are a coffee lover who cares for the environment, have a look at what you can change in your coffee habit to enjoy your cup of joe guilt-free!
6 Ways To Reduce the Environmental Impact of Your Coffee Habit
1. Reduce Energy Usage
Consider the way you make coffee at home or in the office. In general, an electric coffee maker tends to have a high energy consumption.
For espressos, a manual coffee machine like a French press or the pour-over method can provide you with an even better coffee quality as you will be using ground beans. You will still need a kettle to heat water, but the energy usage is a lot lower. Additionally, you will be saving money on expensive pods.
During the summer, you can even consider switching to cold brew coffee, which is less acidity and smoother. There are various techniques for making cold brew coffee, and it eliminates the use of electricity.
2. Reduce Waste
The amount of coffee cups that are being thrown away each year rather than recycled is shocking. Depending on the country, it is reported that billions of coffee cups land in landfills yearly. Some of these disposal coffee cups are lined with polythene insides, which makes them difficult to recycle due to high expenses and a lack of appropriate facilities around the world.
One solution to reduce waste is to reduce the usage of disposal coffee cups or reuse them. Another way to go is to buy your coffee-to-go at a coffee shop that uses compostable options. However, you will have to dispose of them properly; otherwise, you will be defeating the purpose.
One of the best options to eliminate the use and production of disposable coffee cups is to use your own cup for a takeaway coffee. There are many eco-friendly coffee cups on the market. Whether it’s a purpose-made travel mug or a repurposed cup from home, make sure to choose a durable product that can be recycled when they reach the end of use.
3. Choose The Right Coffee Pods
Coffee pods, also known as capsules, are an environmental crisis because they usually end up in the landfill even though some of them can be recycled. Cleaning each capsule after usage and taking them to a dedicated recycling facility can be very inconvenient, and therefore most people skip this process.
However, if coffee drinkers choose the right products from the start, the environmental impact of coffee pods can be minimized. The best way to reduce coffee pod manufacturing and waste is by opting for reusable coffee pods. These coffee pods can be refilled with your favorite ground coffee, and the used coffee itself can be composted.
4. Choose The Right Coffee Filters
Just like coffee pods, coffee filters can also produce a lot of waste and take a lot of energy usage when being manufactured. Most coffee filters get discarded after one use, and some of the paper filters are bleached with chlorine.
So if you are using a drip coffee machine or the pour-over method to make your morning coffee, consider opting for an eco-friendly filter.
You can choose between unbleached filters or a reusable one. For reusable coffee filters, the choice is between plastic, metal, or cloth. Since plastic can take hundreds of years to biodegrade, the best option out of the lot is either a metal filter or cloth filter.
5. Use Spent Coffee Grounds As Fertilizer
Instead of tossing your spent coffee grounds in the garbage, it can be reused in the garden, as coffee grounds make excellent fertilizer!
If you are not the gardening type, you can find organizations in your area that collect coffee grounds. These facilities usually collect spent coffee from places with high usage and reuse them in different ways. Used coffee beans can be reused to dye fabric, create fuels and compounds, and even be added to construction materials to improve insulating properties.
6. Choose Your Coffee Wisely
It is already an overwhelming choice when it comes to choosing between coffee brands as there are so many. So why not make the decision easier by only opting for those brands that have a sustainability certification. These certifications include the Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade.
Some of the coffee companies are more focused on environmental sustainability than others. By digging and researching the specific coffee brand you use, you will be able to find out more about how “green” your morning beans really are.
Have Peace Of Mind While Sipping On Your Coffee
Unfortunately, we are still a long shot from eliminating our carbon footprint on the planet, as most of our habits and products we consume are far from environmentally friendly.
While it’s not possible to cut out every product we use and change our daily routines completely, it will sure make a difference if every one of us can become just a tiny bit more eco-conscious.
Next time you order a coffee or brew coffee at home, consider where it comes from, how it gets brewed, in what it’s served, and what to do with the waste. By encouraging others, including your favorite coffee shop, to adopt sustainable practices, we can address the environmental crisis together!