Sustainable Living

8 Things You Can Do To Reduce The Environmental Impact Of Your Coffee Habit


That first cup of coffee certainly has a pretty big impact on your day: you’re awake! But how can we make sure that cup of coffee doesn’t leave a big impact on the environment? Read on for eight ways you can reduce your environmental footprint and still enjoy your morning joe, whether at home or at your coffee shop.

1) Use a travel mug or to-stay mug.

Paper and plastic coffee cups contribute to a HORRIFYING amount of waste. Upwards of 20 to 30 billion coffee cups are used, and disposed of, each year. Starbucks alone goes through 4 billion disposable cups every single year! To add insult to injury, coffee cups are most often coated in a plastic to make them leak proof, deeming them unable to be recycled.

While some coffee shops use recycled cups, a majority don’t. One of the biggest ways you can reduce your impact is by carrying your own reusable travel mug, and opting in for a ceramic mug when you are staying in-store. Bonus: pick a reusable coffee mug that is BPA-free and eco-friendly.

2) Put down the extra stirrers and the fistful of napkins.

We often use two stirrers, grab a handful of napkins, or take a coffee sleeve or extra cup simply out of habit. Be mindful of what you take at the coffee shop that will end up in the garbage. If there’s a sugar shaker or simple syrup, consider using that instead of individual packets, and at home, always use bulk sugar and not the packets.

P.S. This should go for all aspects of your life, not just coffee!

3) Recycle… when you can.

As previously mentioned, many coffee cups can’t be recycled, but some can! Recycle your waste as much as possible, and same with sugar packets, stirrers, and coffee sleeves. If you’re not sure if something can be recycled at a particular shop, just ask.

4) Step up your bean game.

It’s better for you and the earth to patronize coffee that is made locally, both because of the quality of freshness of the beans, as well as the reduced carbon emissions from transporting it long distances (one of many reasons drinking local is important).

Whether shopping for coffee at home or picking a coffee shop, investigate local and sustainably grown coffee as an option. Trust us, you will love the taste as well! Cheap coffee is often destructive towards the environment because of the harsh chemicals used in the process.

5) Opt for better milk options.

Opt for organic or no-added hormone milk, or choose nut milk instead. There are tons of reasons regular milk harms the environment, and the more people there are drinking organic milk, the more the agriculture industry will shift in that direction.

6) Pick your home coffee brewer wisely.

Using pour over, a stovetop percolator, or french press techniques reduces the amount of electricity used in powering your morning coffee habit. Avoid using single-serve coffee machines, where pods contribute to landfill and are often not even recyclable. Also, your coffee will taste way better.

Even John Sylvan, the founder of Keurig and inventor of the K-Cup, has shared his regrets in starting the company because of the waste it has contributed, and stated that he doesn’t even own one anymore.

7) Encourage your local shop to do better.

Encourage your coffee shop to use recycled cups, to have to-stay mugs, to have organic milk, and to use local coffee beans. Local coffee shops are adaptable and want to meet the needs and demands of their customers, but can only do so if you tell them what those needs and demands are.

Make it easier for yourself by having them do some of the work for you! Mother earth will thank you later.

8) Spread the gospel.

Once you’ve mastered your greener coffee habits, bring others along for the ride! It’s a community effort, so if you see your friend grabbing for a few stirrers, share what you learned. It takes a village!

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