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Eco-Joe: Ways to Green Your Coffee

Posted on October 8, 2018 by Matt Tomasino There have been 0 comments

If you drink coffee, you are amongst the 64% of Americans that consume at least one cup per day and 84% that drink coffee overall (source: National Coffee Association and Reuters). Now, with corporate and artisan coffee shops opening on practically every corner, the environmental impact is expanding.

Take note of some ways you can improve your coffee consumption and reduce the caffeinated carbon footprint to enhance Eco-health.

Convenience vs. Pollution

Yes, single serve “K” cups are super convenient. However, just like water bottles, the pollution fallout is tremendous.

According to production reports by Java Presse, Green Mountain Coffee Co (Keurig) manufactured ten billion K-cups in 2015. Set up in one continuous line, this amount of disposable, plastic cups could wrap around the globe 10.5 times. This doesn’t even include other companies that make similar cups like pods and Nespresso. Add in the potential health and safety risks associated with these single serve sins, such as plastic chemical leaching, and you truly have a subpar, un-eco product.

If you want to do something for the environment, tear apart your Keurig (post it on YouTube as advice to others), recycle what you can, and brew your Joe the old fashioned way.

Go Old School Non-Electric

Heat up your water and add it to a French Press. This is one of the oldest, cleanest and, according to some aficionados, best coffee preparation methods available. It requires little energy other than boiled water and a slow push.

The New York Times reported,

“In March 1852, a Paris metalsmith and a merchant received a joint patent for “the filtering of coffee by means of a piston.” The patent described a rod attached to a piece of tin pierced with holes and sandwiched between two layers of flannel. The rod would be pressed by hand into a cylindrical vessel. “By lowering the piston,” the inventors wrote, “filtered coffee is obtained above it, perfectly clear.”

If you like cold-brew, which is currently all the rage wherever you go, investing in a cold-brew coffee maker requires no hot water and can make a cup that other aficionados report as being the only way to make the ultra-best tasting cup of coffee on the planet.

There are a variety of methods to making cold brew, just don’t get manipulated by the disposable “bagged” cold brew kits. These just add to more pollution when all you need is some roasted, ground beans. Note: Cold-brew can pack a caffeine wallop so drink responsibly.

The Takeaway

Millions of disposable cups are produced and tossed every day. The production resources are enormous, threatening water conservation, landfill control, and global warming expansion. In the past, Starbucks promised a recyclable cup but hasn’t delivered citing infrastructure problems within its 75 country conglomerate. Apparently, this company does not know how to keep non-recyclables out of recyclable bins claiming one non-recyclable item can compromise the entire bag. Until it figures out this rocket science, each Starbucks cup will take upwards of 20 years to decompose in a landfill. When you multiply that by 60 billion discarded Starbucks cups per year in the USA alone, then add on the billions of other cups from other companies, there has got to be a better way.

One way is to invest in your own coffee mug or travel container. Many are made from Eco-friendly materials like bamboo, recycled stainless steel, or repurposed wood. They are durable and keep temperatures steady, outperforming any disposable cup.

Another way is using your own compostable products. Compostable hot cups and lids are BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) Certified to meet ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards for commercial compostability. These products are also covered in non-petroleum polylactic acid (PLA), a biodegradable bio-plastic coating, and are often completely made from 100% renewable resources. Buy a sleeve of compostable cups for home or parties, or better yet, educate and encourage your local coffee shop to use these instead. Try Vegware's award winning line of compostable hot cups.

Filter Accordingly

If you are still using paper filters you may want to swap them out for a reusable option. Many conventional filters are bleached with chlorine to give them that aesthetic white look. This poses a twofold problem. One is, residue chlorine being leached into landfill soil and eventually into the water table. The other is, how much accumulated chlorine you are ingesting over years of daily use. Coffee filters are irresponsible and dangerous so get yourself a reusable one.

If your coffee maker is an heirloom or one-of-a-kind contraption that demands a filter, look for Eco-friendly options that label TCF (total chlorine-free) or PCF (processed chlorine-free).

Be Nice, Be Fair

With coffee being one of the top beverages in the world, harvesting and manufacturing practices considerably vary. When you purchase your favorite java check the packaging for these labels. If you outsource, challenge your coffee purveyor as to the product they use and if they offer/support any of these or other Eco-friendly certifications.

  • Fair Trade
  • Organic
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified
  • Rainforest And Bird Friendly Certified
  • Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s Bird Friendly Certification (organic shade grown coffee)


These ways to green your coffee are easy and smart. See if you can implement one or more to stay steady on keeping our planet in good health.

This post was posted in Blog and Green Library, Defining Green, Eating Well, Health and Safety, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Your Green Business and was tagged with bamboo, coffee, CONSERVES WATER, RECYCLED-UPCYCLED, SUSTAINABLE


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