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Love your coffee but feel a little guilty about your habit? Here are five ways that you can green up your coffee habit and make it better for the planet.
1. Consider the source.
Fair Trade and ethically sourced coffee is grown in ways that are kinder to the environment. Many are completely organic, but even those that aren’t certified organic are grown by farmers who are practicing sustainable farming techniques. That means that they plant other crops to replenish the soil, grow coffee bushes under shade trees and avoid stripping rain forest in order to grow coffee on coffee plantations.
2. Buy organically grown coffees.
Certified organic coffees are grown without using harmful chemical fertilizer or pesticides. Third party certification isn’t easy – coffee farmers applying for an organically grown certification have to show that no pesticides or fertilizers have been used on the land where the coffee is being grown for at least three years. That’s to make sure that any remnants remaining in the soil are washed away. They also must adhere to strict standards of growing practices in order to qualify for the organic label. No pesticides and no chemical fertilizers keeps those things out of our waterways and food chain, making everyone healthier.
3. Choose shade-grown or bird-friendly coffees.
As if Fair Trade and organic wasn’t enough, there’s yet a third certification to heed – shade-grown or bird-friendly coffee. Some coffee plantations strip-cut the rain forests to bare ground in order to plant more coffee shrubs. Unfortunately, this practice destroys the habitats of dozens of insects, birds and small animals. With their homes destroyed, the food chain is disrupted and the ripples spread outward. The ultimate result can be famine, floods and disease. Shade grown and bird friendly are two terms that describe coffees that are harvested from shrubs grown “au naturel” – in the shade of the trees and rain forest canopy. This method of growing coffee does not destroy the environment and leaves small animal, bird and insect habitats untouched.
4. Buy your coffee from a local roaster.
Unless you live in the tropical band around the equator, you really can’t buy locally grown coffee, but you can reduce the number of miles that your coffee has to travel to reach you. Find a roaster close to you to cut down on the trip and the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere by your coffee delivery. Best case scenario? If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with a roaster that delivers coffee via bike courier, you’d be doing a lot to cut out the extra carbon from your coffee cup.
5. Use a permanent filter.
One of the most wasteful parts of our coffee addiction is our habit of using paper filters to make drip coffee. Disposable coffee filters are a strain on the environment in a number of ways, both at the start of their life and at its end. They use paper, which is made from a consumable resource that is slow to be replaced. They are bleached and processed to make them look snowy white – and after they’re used, they end up in a land fill for decades. By using a permanent filter, you greatly reduce your use of our environmental resources.