sustainable coffee

How to Make Your Coffee Routine More Sustainable

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Coffee is a staple of so many cultures and everyday routines around the world, with millions of cups consumed every day. It’s a highly traded commodity that plays a big part of the global economy. But as delicious as coffee is, it’s not without its consequences to the plan – the growing and transportation of coffee has a lot of social and environmental effects which can be substantial due to the increased demand. While we will never have entirely sustainable coffee, there are ways to make your daily routine a little lighter on the planet. 

Choose the Supplier Carefully

The first step to switching to a more sustainable coffee routine is to consider the coffee you’re drinking more carefully. There are labels and certifications you can look for when you’re making a purchase to let you know the production process has followed the right environmental and humanitarian regulations. For example, shade-grown coffee utilizes natural coffee growing processes, which provides a better habitat for native wildlife and prevents soil erosion.

You should also look for Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee which includes certain social, economic and environmental criteria to ensure growers are treated and paid fairly, wastewater isn’t dumped into waterways and pesticides are limited. Fair Trade Certified standards are also important, ensuring the coffee has been produced by farmers and workers who have been treated fairly. 

Pay Attention to Packaging

Keeping your coffee as fresh as possible for as long as possible is a challenge in buying coffee for home use. It also has an impact on the quantity of coffee that heads to landfills each year as a result. For this reason, choosing the right packaging designed to minimize the impact on the planet is key. 

Buying in bulk is one option that enables the consumer to buy just what they need without producing waste. It’s not always a practical solution for everyone, however, as it’s dependent on having a supplier close by where you can buy in bulk. Finding a compromise may be the best option, such as choosing coffee in recyclable packaging which ensures the packaging can be disposed of properly when you’re finished with the contents. Compostable packaging is another solution geared towards reducing the amount of waste sitting in landfills.

Photo by Madalyn Cox on Unsplash

Consider the Method

It’s not just opting for reusable alternatives to single-use coffee pods that impacts the sustainability of your coffee routine, but also opting for a method geared towards using less energy. The energy used for an electric coffee maker, for example, is considerably higher than other methods. The hotplate the coffee pot is left on remains on charge for hours. Plus, the digital display and overall energy used when it’s plugged in all contribute to a high-energy method that’s not great for your wallet or the planet. 

Manual coffee brewing requires less energy and the devices you’ll use to make coffee in this way are more dependable. Moka pots, French presses and pour-over coffee carafes are all great options only requiring enough energy to boil water. The latter can also be used with reusable coffee filters to reduce waste even further. 

Compost the Grounds

Millions of tons of coffee waste are produced each year. If you’re making coffee every day, you are likely to find yourself with plenty of used grounds ending up going into the bin. However, coffee grounds are actually really beneficial for your plants, as they’re rich in nitrogen, so they can be given a second life by adding them to your compost heap. They can even be sprinkled directly around plants to repel bugs and predators for an organic alternative to insecticides. By using your spent grounds again, you’re keeping them out of waterways and landfills. This extends the use and life of the coffee further in the process. 

Final Thoughts

While some might argue the only true way to be sustainable, when it comes to coffee, is to give up our morning brew altogether, the reality is coffee is too ingrained in our culture for that to be a practical solution. Incorporating small but effective changes, such as switching to recyclable packaging, opting for certified suppliers and low-energy methods, can help make your routine better for the planet, while still enabling you to enjoy your coffee each day. 

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