‘Greener You’ Challenge #28 – Green Up Your Coffee Routine

After water and tea, coffee is the third most consumed beverage in the world. In the US, we consume nearly 400 million cups per day! Not surprisingly, we’re the biggest coffee consumer in the world, so how we source, brew, and drink coffee matters.

For many, our morning coffee is a sacred ritual, unique to each of us—just listen to the wildly varied orders in the Starbucks line!—so it can be a challenge to change this ingrained habit.

Here are three easy ways to “green-up” your coffee routine.

1. Avoid disposables, like K-Cups. In 2013 alone, Green Mountain Coffee (aka Keurig) produced enough K-Cups (now in landfills) to wrap around the equator 10.5 times. Because of the K-Cup’s significant environmental impact, its inventor has famously said he sometimes wishes he had never invented them. This doesn’t mean you have to toss your countertop single-cup brewer. Like Laura, spoon your favorite coffee into a refillable K-Cup!

2) BYOC! In the US, it’s estimated that we toss more than fifty billion lidded paper coffee cups every year, seven billion of which Starbucks alone is responsible for. The swap is simple: start bringing your own travel thermos or mug. About three years ago, I went reusable, a switch that has significantly improved my coffee-drinking experience. Not only does my travel mug keep my coffee hot for longer, it also cuts down on leaks and spills.

3) Consider your bean source. Like food, coffee beans are grown in a variety of ways. Some methods are good for the planet and those who grow the beans. Others, not so much. Look for certifications like “Fair Trade” and “Rainforest Alliance Certified” but keep in mind that some growers doing the best work can’t afford these certifications. Our Michigan coffee roaster cousin offers this advice: If the region in which the coffee was grown is on the label, it’s a good sign. Want to learn more about finding sustainably grown coffee? Tune in to this week’s podcast for our deep dive on greening up your coffee routine.

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