I am a stay-at-home mom of three. I wake up at 4:45 a.m. every morning to help my husband get ready for work.
I drink a lot of coffee.
I’m not alone. More than half of Americans are coffee drinkers, and many of them procure that morning cup of coffee outside their home.
In 2007, Starbucks alone used 1.9 billion disposable paper cups. That’s a lot of non-recyclable paper headed for the landfill, not to mention the water, trees, and energy used in production!
Here’s some tips to shrink your coffee footprint:
Brew Your Own: Eliminate your need for disposable cups and save money in the process by making your own coffee at home- hot or iced. Even better, take the Good Earth Coffee “Brew at Home” Pledge and Good Earth will donate $1 to The Trust for Public Land, a non-profit that works to conserve parks, gardens, and natural places.
Buy Organic, Shade Grown, and/or Fair Trade: Organic coffee is grown without the use of pesticides; shade grown coffee is grown without unnecessary clearing of rainforest, which disrupts bird habitats (shade grown is also sometimes referred to as “Bird-Friendly”); and Fair Trade refers to the practice of providing fair wages and conditions for workers. Ideally, choose a coffee that meets all three standards.
Invest in a Reusable Filter: At this point, I hate buying any product intended for one-time use. Although paper filters can be composted, there is still an environmental cost associated with their production. (Also, I just think the coffee tastes better run through a reusable filter.)
Use a Thermos: Rather than leaving the coffeemaker on “warm”, making multiple pots, or reheating in the microwave, conserve energy by making a day’s worth of coffee and pouring it into a vacuum-sealed thermos. This will ensure that you have a constant supply of hot coffee to keep you going all day.
Compost the Coffee Grounds: Finally, make sure your grounds make it into the compost bin. Or, during the growing season, sprinkle the grounds over flower and vegetable beds as a nitrogen-rich mulch.
Of course, sometimes when I’m out and about I really need a little pick-me-up, or I’ll run into a friend and we’ll stop by the local coffee shop. I try to keep a travel coffee mug in the car for these caffeine emergencies, but if I don’t have that, I’ll ask the barista to hold the paper sleeve and plastic cap!
Photo by ballistikcoffeeboy under Creative Commons