This week’s eco-tip is from EarthShare, a US based non-profit that’s worked for more than 20 years to connect people and organizations with effective ways to support critical environmental causes.
No matter what time of day, most of us are more interested in getting our daily caffeine jolt than pondering whether the cup it arrived in is environmentally friendly. But believe it or not, even small changes in something as seemingly mundane as our coffee routine can add up to a lot less waste and a much healthier planet!
Here are some easy tips to take your next brew from just plain tasty, to healthy, and earth-friendly too.
Invest in a reusable mug
Kick the Styrofoam disposable cup habit once and for all. Polystyrene isn’t biodegradable, which means most cups will end up lingering in a landfill for centuries. Some coffee shops have jumped on this bandwagon by offering a free cup of coffee if you purchase one of their reusable mugs.
Support local brewers and cafes
The less distance your coffee travels from farm to mug the better. And besides, as we South Africans like to say, local is lekker!
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. If they’re not open to persuasion then perhaps it’s time to find yourself a more amenable alternative. If you’re feeling daring you could always ditch the sugar and creamer entirely, your waistline will thank you and so will your taste buds. Once you’ve acquired a taste for coffee straight up, you’ll never look back!
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.
Want to take it even further?
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 in the market for a new coffee maker, how about trying 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 about it, pick up some organic milk and sugar to go with it.
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
Old coffee grinds are surprisingly versatile, and good for far more than just the trash once you’ve made your morning cuppa. Keep them handy in the kitchen to scrub grease off pots and pans or place them in the refrigerator to absorb common odours. They also make great plant fertiliser! Toss them in with your compost heap or sprinkle them on soil to add a natural nitrogen boost.
“By making simple changes in our everyday lives, we can make significant strides to improve the planet we all share.” – EarthShare