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7 Ways to Make Your Coffee Habits More Eco-Friendly

Drinking coffee is something many of us take for granted and the cost of the carbon footprint conventional coffee can have on the environment is not on most of our minds.

If you’re looking to enjoy your cup of java while being a little kinder to the earth and the farmers, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there. This makes it tough to understand what makes a difference.

We’ve put together 7 ways you to make your coffee habits more eco-friendly and easier on the earth.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

The pieces separate and folds up, so it doesn’t take up as much space as other portable coffee makers like the AeroPress.

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Use a reusable mug or filter

Staying away from single-use cups helps reduce the amount of energy needed to produce each cup of coffee while removing unneeded waste and landfill from disposable cups.

Bringing your own mug or tumbler to your local coffee shop is the best way to achieve this tip to make your coffee habits more eco-friendly.

You can also use a reusable filter, rather than one-use paper filters for drip coffee machines and pour-over methods.

Brew coffee at home more often

Not every cafe will allow people to bring their own cup in, another way to get around this is to have your coffee before you leave home.

This isn’t going to be for everyone, as we use coffee as a social outing and a great way to catch up with friends, but small changes have a large impact over time.

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Choose your brewing method wisely

Not all brewing methods are created equal when it comes to the environment – energy consumption, waste and any additives (such as milk) will greatly alter the impact on the earth each cup of coffee has.

Cold-brew is considered to be the most energy-efficient method to brew coffee as it doesn’t include heating of water at all, while it isn’t for everyone, it can be a welcome change for some.

Skip pods and capsules

Staying on types of brewing, pods, and capsules creates a lot of landfill and waste.

In 2018 alone, Keurig sold around 13 billion capsules (that’s billion with a B) and an estimated 150 to 500 years to break down.

While many will have a recyclable symbol on the packaging, certain elements, such as aluminum foil, aren’t typically recyclable.

If you have purchased that expensive Nespresso or Keurig machine, you can look into reusable capsules that eliminate one-use capsules.

However much you are commonly using at home, do half. At the high-end you could go 21-23 grams of coffee per serving. Going as low as 15 grams of coffee is sufficient too. Then adding ~200-250 ml of water.

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Shop around for eco-friendly coffee

Eco-friendly coffee has a lot of certifications claiming to significantly help the environment and the workers that produce the product – the truth is not every certification has shown measurable results.

We recommend USDA Organic and Fair Trade combination for human rights issues and Bird Friendly from the Smithsonian Institute for the environment and biodiversity.

Note: Simply being “shade grown” isn’t measurable and this shouldn’t be taken as 100% effective.

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Buy local beans where possible

Buying locally reduces transportation and the environmental footprint from carbon emissions. The amount of emissions from buying beans depends greatly on the mode of transportation – cargo ships are often one of the best modes of transport.

Better than anything is buying from the source – though this isn’t always possible if you don’t live near a region of the world that grows coffee.

Compost or recycle what you can

As mentioned above, not everything when it comes to coffee is recyclable or compostable. If you have no other option than to use single-use packaging, ensuring it is compostable or at least recyclable is important (check out more ideas on what to do with used coffee grounds).

You can also use spent coffee grounds as fertilizer for some plants, but be sure that your plant loves acidic conditions, such as roses, blueberries, carrots, etc.

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Conclusion

Aiming to be more eco-friendly when it comes to your coffee habits can be daunting, but it really doesn’t need to be.

Pick 1-2 things on this list that you can change on a daily basis and you will have a huge impact on your personal footprint.

Buying and practicing eco-friendly sends the right signals to the coffee industry and corporations that they need to evolve with the market and that we care about the impacts our coffee has on the environment and the farmers in the fields.

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