Our morning coffee habit is something that many of us don’t think twice about — but maybe we should. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting anyone give up the beverage that makes waking up in the morning worth it. But I do think that we should all take a closer look at where our coffee comes from and how it’s made, as the environmental impact of different coffee brands and brewing methods can be pretty considerable. Here are eight ways to make your coffee habit more eco-friendly.
Ditch the Keurigs
Yes, we know we’ve said it before, but since a third of Americans still own a Keurig machine (or similar brand of coffee pod contraption), it’s worth saying again. Those little cups that seem so convenient are largely unrecyclable and completely unsustainable. Consider using other single cup brewing options like a French press or moka pot instead.
Consider your filters
Many people like using paper filters because they find the result smoother and tastier. However, a reusable gold filter leads to less waste and can be equally yummy! If you want to stick to paper, just make sure they’re unbleached and biodegradable.
Brew at home
When you make your own coffee, you have complete control over where the coffee you’re using comes from, how it’s made, where the grinds go when you’re done and the quality of ingredients you add to your coffee. Plus, it’s pretty much always cheaper, and you can make healthier versions of the coffee drinks you love from the comfort of your kitchen.
Bring your own mug
If you do choose to get your caffeine fix from a coffee shop, be sure to bring your own mug or travel cup. Using your own mug cuts down on waste by replacing all of those disposable cups and plastic sippy tops, and it can be for any other beverages you buy outside the home as well. Until all coffee shops start using coffee cups you can plant, it’s probably best to just avoid the disposable variety entirely.
Conventional coffee is one of the most chemically treated foods in the entire world, as pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, fungicides and insecticides are all used in the growing process. Switching to organic coffee brands, which do not use all of these chemicals, is not only better for our health, it’s also better for birds, bees and butterflies!
Check the label
Unfortunately, when it comes to coffee, organic is not the only label you have to worry about. Other labels to look out for include “Bird Friendly,” which signifies that it comes from a company that works to preserve the habitats of our flying friends; and “Rainforest Certified,” which indicates that land is not being deforested and the beans are being grown in a sustainable way. Click here to see a few of our favorite coffee companies.
Be prepared to spend a little more
Here’s the truth: When it comes to coffee, the cheapest beans are less healthy, worse for the environment and the people who harvest them often don’t make a living wage. Everyone should decide what’s right for them and their budget, but some things are worth paying a little more for!
Compost your coffee grounds
Although coffee itself is acidic, used coffee grounds themselves are close to PH neutral, as well as rich in nitrogen, which makes them a great addition to your DIY fertilizer. Coffee grounds can also be used to ward off ants, deodorize your fridge and as an ingredient in a homemade, exfoliating body scrub.
We all love coffee, and the truth is, it tastes even better when it’s guilt-free!
Teresa is a freelance writer and yoga teacher currently living in Sri Lanka. She loves to write about policies, ideas, and practices that promote a healthy planet and create healthy people.