How to sustainably drink coffee
In most student’s lives, coffee is an essential part of every day. But because of single-use takeaway cups and coffee pod machines that create a lot of waste, drinking coffee seems like it is not very environmentally friendly.
Most coffee producing countries are relatively poor and lack an effective social infrastructure. The communities depend on coffee prices, which means that when coffee prices fall, this has a direct impact on the opportunities for education, healthcare, housing and other necessities. But the production of coffee also presents issues for the environment in the producing countries. Agriculture in general drives most of tropical deforestation and coffee needs a lot of resources to be produced. The water in the producing countries gets polluted by the effects of coffee wet milling. Polluted water gets into the local waterways and can cause diseases in animals, plants and humans.
But not only the coffee itself, also the way we consume it causes problems for the environment. A lot of waste is created, for example by coffee-to-go cups and coffee pods for the machines. Many coffee machines need electricity and are often plugged in the entire day even though they are only used once or twice, which means they waste a lot of energy.
Of course, there are ways we as students can make our coffee habits more sustainable. For example, when drinking the free coffee that is available at the university, bringing your own cup instead of using the paper ones is an option to reduce waste. This of course also applies to getting coffee somewhere else at a coffee shop. If you bring your own cup and straw or lid or whatever you need, you won’t need to get the ones that are often made from plastic.
If you make your coffee at home, there are also some good options. For the coffee itself, buying fair trade coffee is the best option. This might be a little more expensive than buying regular coffee, but it is still cheaper than getting coffee from a café. For making coffee, machines that use the least energy and materials are the most environmentally friendly. So, while coffee pot machines may be convenient and fast, they use a lot of energy and create a lot of waste. A more sustainable alternative would be for example a French press. These are manual and are available for quite cheap prices at many stores. So, basically ideal for students who want to live more sustainably on a budget.
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