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How Can My Cup of Coffee Help the Environment?

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

Minimizing your carbon footprint should feel as warm and satisfying as that first sip of morning coffee. But can little changes really make a difference? Do I have to give up my favorite flavor, or milk preference? What about those of us who don’t have an extra five minutes to spare in our morning routine, and need the caffeine IV drip to get us out the door?

Fear not, buzz-seekers! Meaningful change is possible, and easier than you think!

Step One: Look for “Fair-Trade” Coffee

Coffee that is Fair Trade certified was produced adhering to standards that protect coffee farmers from being exploited. Trade conditions are monitored for transparency, and the coffee producers are supported in all facets of production, from sustainable practices to prohibition of slave and child labor. Happy farmers grow happy beans!

Step Two: Watch the Waste

By now it’s common knowledge among the coffee-savvy that John Sylvan (the inventor of K-cups used by Keurig instant coffee brewing machines) now regrets his invention due to the negative environmental impact of creating so much waste. I’m not suggesting that you get rid of your coffee machine! But you can take stock of the garbage generated when you make coffee in the morning and take steps to reduce it. Do you use a Keurig? Try a reusable K-cup. Do you grab coffee from a shop or stand? Bring your own travel mug! Know any gardeners? Start saving your used coffee grounds for them. There are countless ways to tweak your routine, and choosing reusable coffee swag is ALMOST as fun as using it for the first cup of the day! Or the second. Or the fifth. I’m not judging…

Step Three: Thoughtful Accents

Maybe you like to keep it simple, and keep your coffee black. Maybe you’re a two sugar packets, extra cream kind of person. Whatever your preference, consider whether sustainable alternatives might be an option. If you’re a creamy drinker, organic dairy is better for the cow and for the planet. If you’re plant-based, soy milk is a great option, and uses about one-tenth as much water to produce as almond milk. What about sweetener? Toss the sugar packets and buy a bulk container. Sugar cane is an environmentally taxing crop; have you checked out whether local honey can be found in your area?

Finally: Relax and Enjoy

At the end of the day (or the beginning of it!), ethical choices can be as comforting as your favorite mug of joe. We are so fortunate to live in a time of personalized travel mugs, flavored soy milks, and reusable swizzle sticks. Have fun customizing your routine, and enjoy your caffeination that much more, knowing that you’ve done your best for Mama Earth.

Coffee drinkers unite!

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