Make sustainability part of your daily grind
For billions of people around the world, enjoying a cup of freshly brewed coffee is part of their morning routine. Coffee is one of the most commonly consumed beverages with data showing that around 161 million bags – totalling 9.6 million tonnes – of this fine roasted goodness was consumed globally in 2017-18.
But this daily ritual can have a significant social and environmental impact. The good news is, you don’t need to forgo the all-important pick-me-up beverage to make a positive difference – just consider the choices you make. And, there’s no better day to start than today – International Coffee Day.
There are a number of ways you can ensure your coffee helps the environment and the community it’s sourced from. Here are a few tips:
1. Consider your purchase
Look for brands that support sustainable coffee practices.
These producers work to create high quality beans while managing farms in an environmentally friendly way. This includes maintaining native vegetation, protecting natural habitats and biodiversity.
So when you’re browsing for your next bag pick one that’s fairly traded and sustainably grown and look for the Rainforest Alliance or Australian Certified Organic seals.
2. Use a reusable cup for takeaway coffee
Five hundred billion takeaway coffee cups are disposed of annually and one billion of those are used and disposed of in Australia.
While disposable cups are convenient when you’re on the go, they are not recyclable. The cups have a plastic coating that makes them a challenge to recycle and therefore end up in landfill.
A simple solution to reduce the amount of disposable cups used is to ask for your coffee in your own reusable cup or travel mug. Have a cup at home, in the car and in the office so you’re never without your fresh brew. And with many brands, colours, styles and materials on the market, there’s sure to be one you’ll love.
3. Recycle your coffee grounds
Coffee not only gives people a welcomed boost, but the grounds can give gardens a little kick too. Coffee grounds are great for the garden, so don’t bin them.
Coffee grounds are a source of nitrogen and feed a slow and steady drip of fertiliser to plants. They can also act as an effective repellent against slugs, snails, ants and cats. Even earthworms and compost worms enjoy coffee grounds.
Sprinkle the grounds around your garden, turning over the soil where needed and put some of that coffee goodness back into the ground.
4. Encourage your local coffee shop to recycle or giveaway their coffee grounds
Based on our coffee consumption, it’s not suprising that thousands of cups of coffee are purchased from Australian cafes and other vendors daily. This creates a significant amount of coffee grounds. Unfortunately, most of it gets thrown into the waste bin and sent to landfill.
Coffee shops can recycle the grounds by giving them to staff, customers, a local group, community centre or school for use in their gardens.
Alternatively, they can organise an organics recycling collection by a waste management company.
Some companies around the world are even using coffee waste to create new products such as paper, 3D printer lament, charcoal, textiles and body scrubs.
Why not research how to make your own body scrub out of coffee grounds?
5. Recycle your coffee capsules
Coffee pod machines have become quite the kitchen staple, sitting on home benches and in office lunchrooms right across Australia, providing that quick hot cuppa with the touch of a button.
In 2015, Australians spent more than $215 million on coffee pods, equating to around 3 million coffee pods being used every day. It’s great for the coffee industry, but not so great for the environment.
Many pods are made up of mixed plastics and aluminium meaning they cannot be placed into the recycling bin. But some pod-based coffee companies are leading the way and producing eco-friendly alternatives such as recycled or compostable capsules.
Several brands of reusable coffee capsules have also come on the market to help reduce the waste from these coffee machines. Nespresso pods can be dropped off to local drop off points, including some florists and the recycling group, Terracycle.
Whilst coffee pods are quick, convenient and reduce the mess from using ground coffee, in the long run they can end up costing double what coffee from an espresso machine costs.
6. Be an advocate for change
By being an advocate for sustainable coffee drinking, you can show others the way to a healthier, greener and more sustainable environment. Every little bit helps.