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February 9, 2010

How to Green Your Cup of Coffee

Posted by: Siel

  1. Pick fair trade, organic coffee. Double-certified coffee’s not hard to find these days, as more coffee drinkers discover that organically-grown, fairly-traded coffee’s often really yummy-tasting too! I usually buy Equal Exchange coffee — partly because the company’s long been a leader in the fair trade movement that gives coffee farmers a fairer share of the money you pay for your coffee, and partly because Equal Exchange even has a Small Farmers Big Change program to help coffee farmers further ecofy their business practices.

    Not willing to let go of the cheap, pre-ground dry stuff sold in cans? Keep in mind that the reason that stuff’s so cheap is because it’s not all coffee. You’re getting twigs, dust, and floor sweepings in there too. For the best bang for your buck, go with whole bean coffee!

    And once you’re just picking between whole bean coffees, you’ll notice that usually, fair trade, organic coffee isn’t any more expensive than not expensive than conventional coffees. In fact, my local co-op Co-opportunity always has a fair trade, organic coffee blend on sale for $7.99 a pound — a real bargain.

  2. BYO bag. Co-opportunity’s sale coffees are sold in bulk bins — which means I can simply scoop out the exact amount of coffee beans I want into a reusable bag — completely eliminating packaging waste.

  3. Brew in a French press. Besides making better-tasting coffee, French presses are quite eco-friendly too. For one, you’re not bothering with disposable filters as with drip coffee machines — though I understand some people do make use of reusable filters. For another, you’re brewing with maximum energy efficiency. According to Slate’s Green Lantern, boiling your water in an electric kettle for your French press is the greenest way of brewing your coffee.

  4. Make use of the grounds. Post-drink, I use my used coffee grounds to ward off pests in my balcony garden — which means my entire coffee drinking habit’s zero waste!

    Of course, as with any product, coffee does take energy to produce — and transport around the world. But because I get coffee grown by small, organic co-ops that make use of environmentally preferable practices, my morning drink’s likely quite a bit greener than the average cup of Joe. And hopefully my energy-saving, locavoring, bicycling ways make up for the rest of my daily caffeinated indulgence. What’s your favorite brand of organic coffee?

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Read More: Apartment gardening: Local, organic produce on the cheap >

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