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A Greener Cup of Joe

While doing some holiday shopping last week, I noticed a mall kiosk selling those K-Cup coffee makers.  I first encountered the Keurig coffee makers at work about five years ago.  I don't drink coffee, but I never liked the tea it brewed.  It was never the right strength.  Aside from that, it dawned on me how wasteful those machines are.  The cups are not recyclable, so by the end of the workday, a lot of waste would accumulate.  

Even though I don't agree with the use of these machines, I can sort of understand why an office would want to have them.   But now I am seeing them appear in homes, where I really don't understand the point.   With the kiosk at the mall, they were obviously targeting holiday shoppers who would likely buy these coffee makers for friends and relatives.  What an ungreen way to make coffee!  The Carbon Diet website breaks down just how wasteful these machines are.   Yuck.

Now it's time to think about how to green your coffee.  

  • Make your own coffee at home.  It's cheaper, you will always remember your reusable mug, you don't need to use sugar packets, you can stir your coffee with a spoon instead of a disposable coffee stirrer, and you can use organic milk.  Plus, if you don't live walking distance to your favorite coffee shop, you'll save energy.  If you like the fun kinds of coffee shop drinks, Planet Green has some recipes.  
  • If you are grabbing some coffee on the run, remember to bring your reusable mug.  Starbucks cups are NOT recyclable because they contain plastic, Dunkin Donuts cups are Styrofoam so they are recyclable in some municipalities but Styrofoam is awful, and disposable coffee cups at most offices are often not recyclable either.  (If you're having iced coffee and you forget your reusable cup, those plastic cups are generally recyclable)  
  • Seek out coffee shops with organic, fair trade, or Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee.   Don't forget to also buy those kinds of coffees for your home or seek out local brands of coffee.  
  • Compost the coffee grounds, or find other creative ways to reuse them.  
  • You can often compost your coffee filters, but the greener choice is to buy a reusable coffee filter.  (This will save you money, too!)  A French press is also a green option, because it requires no filter and uses less energy.
  • Don't buy a Keurig type coffee maker.  (Or any other kinds with single-use "pods")  Don't give them as gifts, and don't use them at work.  Keurig does claim to be looking into becoming more eco-friendly, but as it stands, they're just incredibly wasteful.  
  • Spread the word!  For the coffee lover in your life, consider helping them go greener with holiday gifts of eco-friendly coffee, reusable coffee filters or eco-friendly disposable filters, reusable coffee cups to bring to coffee shops, and more.  

If you're like me and you drink tea instead of coffee, these tips also apply.  Compost your tea bags or better yet, use loose leaf tea.  Find local, organic, and fair trade teas.  Bring a reusable cup to the coffee shop.  And make your tea at home...aside from being green, it saves money...the mark-up on a bag of tea at a coffee shop is ridiculous!