Did you know that the Scandinavians has the biggest consumption of coffee in the world? And that Australians use and throw away 1 billion take away coffee cups a year? Whether you like it black or light brown, you consume it to warm up, to wake up or just to enjoy, it is something special that draws us to this beverage all over the world.
I sat down with my cup of coffee, to read about my cup of coffee, and whilst drinking that cup of coffee I knew I was in the middle of a big topic. So many consumers, so many factors and impacts involved. I will focus on some environmental impacts of what we drink, and what choices you can make before and after consuming the coffee.
Change in production and impact on environment
Coffee plants are traditionally grown under a shaded canopy of trees. These shaded areas have good soil quality, and is a habitat and home for a lot of different species. What I didn’t know was that with a rising demand on coffee, the production has changed some places around the world to make it more efficient. By clearing areas of trees and making plantations for the coffee plants to grow in the sun, the coffee is produced faster but demands a higher water supply and chemicals for protection of pests and diseases. This will again potentially affect the soil and the local environment negatively, and has its price on ecosystems around as well, where living organisms tend to die out in areas like this (The Exotic Bean, 2017). In other words, shade grown coffee is a more sustainable way of producing coffee for our planet, but as the market is getting more pressing the production is changing in a bad way for the environment. Reading about this definitely makes me think about how I can change the impact of my morning coffee on our planet. If you feel the same you can learn how to know if your coffee is shade grown here.
Where does your coffee go?
Like every other thing: From the moment you buy it, it becomes your responsibility to decide what’s gonna happen to it next. In Norway you might be used to having a compost bin, that’s where the leftovers from my coffee usually would go. Where I live now, in Queensland in Australia, I still haven’t found a good public compost system. I have chucked away my coffee grounds in the bin. Out of sight, out of mind – every Tuesday off to landfill. At landfill it breaks down in a anaerobic site, where it will produce methane that contributes to global warming (Waste Less Future, 2017).
Considering that I am drinking coffee every day, I leave a fair bit of coffee grounds in the waste a week. I looked into other ways to reuse my old coffee grounds, and found this link helpful and inspiring. Do you have a garden? A garden would be a good place to help our planet grow instead of breaking it down, slowly but steady with the leftovers from your morning coffees.
While we are on the subject, there is one more thing on my mind. I have a keep cup. These so-called compostable coffee cups they hand to you when you buy your takeaway coffee (in Australia), are not (!) compostable if they end up in the same bin as all other rubbish. So that means, unless you have a compostable bin, these cups are just as bad as any other single use cups. I challenge you to buy a cup to keep (or use one you already have) if you like your take away coffee. I did post about this on Instagram (@tavahaaustralia) a few weeks back, and I advice you to read War on Waste’s article about it.
I love my morning coffee. From now on I want to make it a cup of true gold, with as little impact on our planet as possible. You and I support what we buy, and are responsible for it from that moment we do. Let’s do kind for our planet, and Tavaha.
Bonsey, J. (2017, April 19). War on Waste: Fixing your Coffee Fix. http://about.abc.net.au/war-on-waste-fixing-your-coffee-fix/
The Exotic Bean (2017, August 8). Shade-Grown vs Sun-Grown Coffee: Why It Matters. https://theexoticbean.com/blog/coffee-types/shade-grown-vs-sun-grown-coffee-matters/
Waste Less Future (2017, May 31). Coffee, Environment and Hopes from Australia. https://wastelessfuture.com/coffee-environment-and-hopes-from-australia/
World Atlas (2018, January 5) Top 10 Coffee Consuming Nations. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/top-10-coffee-consuming-nations.html