While fair-trade operations can help small farmers in impoverished countries, there are also some sustainability issues with coffee. Coffee requires energy to transport, prepare and to heat as a beverage. Many coffee makers use disposable paper filters, which go on to landfills and also require energy to make and transport. In addition, many people drink their coffee in paper or plastic disposable cups, which have the same problem. Coffee is more sustainable if it made with a french press or permanent filter coffee maker and sipped from a reusable mug. Also, if possible, buy coffee that is produced on a sustainable farm.
There are a variety of reasons why coffee is considered unsustainable: coffee requires a great amount of water- 140 liters of water per cup of coffee; high number of food miles; and sun-grown instead of shade-grown farms are promoted, diminishing the health of the ecosystem.
Here are some ways to make your coffee more green:
# Organic Beans – Just like any other crop, organic grown coffee beans are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Choosing organic means that the soil and trees are naturally enriched and alternative sources of pesticides are used (like birds).
# Fair Trade Certification – Most coffee beans are grown in countries that don’t have strict employee guidelines in terms of fair labor practices. One way to ensure that your beans are harvested by fairly compensated workers is to look for the Fair Trade label. Fair Trade doesn’t mean organic, but many are grown without the use of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms or pesticides). Another benefit of Fair Trade coffee is that it supports a region’s community and infrastructure.
# Go Ahead and Go Local – If you are not going to make your own brew at home, the next best thing is to support a local coffee house which serves organic coffee. If your local coffee shop does not offer organic or Fair Trade brew, speak up and let the owner know that you (and many others) would love to support a new organic grind.
# Bring Your Own Cup – According to Coffee-statistics.com, Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day — that’s 146 billion cups of coffee per year – and growing! Want to know how much you contribute? Check out this handy “coffee waste calculator“. Do your part by purchasing a high quality stainless steel coffee mug. Make sure the cup is stainless steel on the inside as well as outside to avoid any leaching from the plastic next to hot liquid. These make great gifts as well.
# Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – This little trio of R’s applies to your morning coffee routine as well. Gone are the days of mindlessly using paper coffee filters. Today, there are some amazing choices to get eco-friendly with your caffeine. If you prefer a paper filter, you can choose from bamboo, hemp or recycled paper to help reduce waste.
Here are some reasons that many coffee drinkers are not green:
-milk from corn fed cows instead of grass fed.
-beans from large industrial farms
-making coffee needs heat, which needs energy to create.
-water is also used.
-paper filters —waste of trees.
-coffee travels a long way to get to you…so it has a large carbon footprint from travelling.
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