Eco-Joe: Making a Cuppa More Planet-Friendly
A Gallup poll last year reported that 64 percent of U.S. adult coffee lovers consume one or more cups daily and the average number of cups quaffed each day is 2.7. We can express our affection for both java and the Earth by following these eco-tips.
• Forego the convenience of single-cup, plastic pod makers like Keurig. As Mother Jones magazine recently reported, only 5 percent of current pods are made with recyclable plastic, and even those, having hard-to-remove aluminum tops, pose recycling challenges. Keurig plans to make all of its pods recyclable by 2020.
• Many other simpler coffee-making devices maximize energy use by facilitating more servings and reducing waste. Treehugger.com recommends the Moka Pot, a pressure-driven aluminum stovetop brewer; the Chemex Coffeemaker, a funnel-shaped glass unit with a wooden collar; the Canadian wood product Aeropress; an old-fashioned vacuum pot with two glass chambers connected by a thin neck; and a traditional non-electric stovetop percolator.
• Some coffee farms exploit their workers, paying subsistence wages, damage rainforests and use unsustainable farming practices. Jake Carney, co-founder of TheAlternativeDaily.com, founded Lucy’s Bru, an organic whole-bean coffee that’s exclusively shade-grown under fair trade conditions, sustainably farmed and free of harsh fertilizers and pesticides.
• Reuse steel and aluminum coffee cans. ChasingGreen.org details how they can make effective dehumidifiers for damp basements when filled with salt; soak paint brushes in thinner solutions; store items in a garage or work space; and serve as a spot lawn or garden seeder after punching holes in the bottom. The website also lists ways that coffee grounds can be used as a beauty, cleaning, deodorizer and dying agent.
• Use better filters at home. Instead of paper, single-use filters, INeedCoffee.com suggests reusable or unbleached, biodegradable alternatives such as the Medelco cone permanent filter and a French press.
• For to-go drinkers, many coffee shops and restaurants will pour fresh brew into mugs that patrons bring in. Keeping a clean spoon in the car can save on plastic stirrers.
This article appears in the March 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.