-4 Bread Bags
-1 Produce Bag
-1 Vegan Marshmellow Bag
-1 Motzarella Cheese Container
-1 Earth Balance Container
-1 Feta Cheese Container
-2 Frozen Fruit Packages
-1 Vegan Sausage Package
-1 Swiffer Mop Container (and this will be our last)
-1 Blueberry Package
-1 Razor Refill Package
-3 Plastic Films
-1 Nut Package
-1 Tempeh Package
-1 Toilet Paper Package
-2 Dog Treat Packages
-1 Mesh Garlic Bag
-4 Safety Seals
-1 Chocolate Wrapper
-1 Chip Bag
-1 Pair of Contacts
-1 Rosemary Package
-1 Salt Grinder Top
-1 Dog Medicine Package
One piece of plastic you will never see in our pile is a coffee cup. This week we wanted to explain why and how we avoid such waste:
Coffee is a delight unto which many people give themselves, each and every day. It has integrated into our culture with coffee shops around every corner and numberous varieties of beans and roasts. I personally enjoy waking up to a hot cup of freshly pressed coffee on cold mornings, enjoying one over a conversation and especially when relaxing and reading a book. Indeed, coffee is an aromatically fantastic beverage that I can see at my side as I move forward. So where does coffee go wrong, and how is it effecting our environment in a negative way?
Just like with meat production, over time a rising demand for coffee has caused some farmers to change their growing methods in order to boost production. Traditional, shade grown coffee takes longer to ripen, but it offers great soil stability, habitat for wildlife, and maintains a cool, damp microclimate under the canopy that is perfect for water-loving coffee plants. The newer sun-cultivation method causes the coffee plants to ripen faster and increases yields. Yet it promotes deforestation and the destruction of wildlife habitat, destabilizes soil and increases erosion and requires more fertilizers, pesticides, and water. As consumers in America our product choices matter. We import coffee from around the world, driving the market through demand. If your coffee is not marked organic or shade grown you are probably buying coffee grown through sun-cultivation methods. You have the power to demand change through what you choose to buy. For some great options check out Equal Exchange. (Their chocolate is also top notch!)
These 31 Plastic K-Cups are the result of an afternoon at my workplace. Being conservative, I’d say my workplace goes through 50 of these each day. Like most plastics we have discussed over the past weeks, these things will not degrade, they will end up in a landfill and last for years and years. Just imagine! Someone casually has a cup of coffee that is made in 20 seconds, drinks it in 3-5 minutes and creates a piece of waste that lasts for centuries. People do it every day, multiple times a day. And, as you may know… there are a lot of people in the world.
Waste… waste… waste! Why so much waste!? Not only are K-Cups wasteful, they are low-quality and could only dream of actually possessing the richness of fresh ground, freshly steeped coffee beans. But unlike a true, delicious cup of coffee, K-Cups produce a slug of caffeine in under 30 seconds, all at the press of a button. It certainly fits the mindset – convenient, no effort, instant reward. How much do people enjoy the ease and convenience of K-Cups? 2.5 Million K-Cups are consumed in America each day, according to a report by Keurig. :( How many a year? You do the math… it’s alarming.
In Keurigs defense, they do support socially and environmentally responsible practices. Yet, within this wordy webpage, they admit that their product is a challenge to recycle. And they fail to address the fact that their product promotes the mindless production of plastic waste. If they really care about the environment they would fully endorse their reusable K cup, and phase out the single use disposables. No matter how much they write about supporting fair trade farmers on their website, their company is in no way environmentally responsible. There are so many more responsible ways to brew a cup of joe!
If you live in New England, you have inevitably seen this horrible image. What is it, you may ask, that makes this so horrible? See what sleeps within!
You have seen correct – it is styrofoam (plastic) housing another piece of plastic, with a plastic straw. These beverages on average tend to last under 10 minutes, many even faster because it is iced, and people drink iced cause it goes down quick and easy.
Styrofoam is a great environmental enemy. It takes a long time to break down, takes up copious space in a landfill, is made from dangerous chemicals and is virtually un-recyclable. How un-recyclable? Roughly 25 Billion Styrofoam cups every year get thrown away into landfills. If you love your Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, and you also love the climate, shelter, and food this planet provides you, train yourself to bring your own reusable cup.
And for what! For an accessible, convenient beverage? I recommend to anyone who cannot take their thoughts off their Dunkin Donuts iced coffee to realize there is a better option, and it starts when you wake up in the morning. Not only is is tastier and more satisfying, it is waste free and could potentially support the people who need it most.
ITS YOU, BREWING AT HOME!
It couldn’t be easier to make your own fantastic coffee at home. I have found that going through these motions is a great way to get my groggy brain moving in the morning. And it feels good to know I am making smart choices for the environment.
1. Buy some beans! We refilled this container from the bulk isle at the Equal Exchange Cafe near North Station in Boston. Most grocery stores also have bulk coffee. So grab a mason jar and fill it up with your favorite!
2. Grind Beans on Coarse Setting. Our Black and Decker Grinder cost me less than $30, and you coffee tastes much more flavorful when freshly ground.
2. Bring Water to a near Boil
3. Place ground beans and water into the french press and stir.
4. Wait 4 minutes.
5. Stir once more, press and voila! You have delicious coffee! Our Bodum french press makes the perfect amount for 2, but they also sell smaller presses if you are drinking solo.
6. Compost those coffee grounds :O) We dump ours right in our garden. Turns out that mushrooms love them too. Back to the Roots sells mushroom kits at Whole Foods that lets you grow a pound and a half of gourmet mushrooms out of coffee grounds right in your kitchen!
Trés belle, non? Now wake up and get brewing, waste free!