Four Steps to a Sustainable Coffee Routine

Woman holding coffee cup up from bed with peace sign
procaffeinate v. The tendency to not start anything until you’ve had a cup of coffee.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. According to the Coffee Association of Canada, 71% of Canadian adults had a cup of coffee yesterday.

It’s no surprise that Canadians love their coffee. A troubling statistic however, has been highlighted in a recent City of Vancouver report noting that 2.6 million disposable coffee cups are thrown into the trash every week. And that’s just in Vancouver.

The increase in coffee consumption in Canada and around the world poses a serious environmental threat—one beyond our local landfills. The Climate Institute estimates that without strong action to reduce emissions, climate change and rising temperatures are projected to cut the global area suitable for growing coffee by as much as 50% by 2050. The demand for coffee by that time will have also doubled.

Our daily coffee routines have ripple effects on families and the environment around the world. To help address these issues, we’ve put together…

Four Simple Steps to a Sustainable Daily Coffee Routine

1. Buy Fairtrade Certified Organic Coffee

Starting at the source, Fairtrade and Organic Certified coffee production helps protect farmers, their families, and the environment. Together, the certifications ensure that farmers receive a fair price for their sustainably grown coffee, premiums are provided to empower farmers to invest in their community’s future, and our watersheds are protected from harmful chemicals.

2. Brew coffee at home when you can

With 2.6M disposable coffee cups ending up in our city garbage bins every week, the collection of these and other waste costs Vancouver taxpayers $2.5M per year. Brewing coffee at home or the office helps ensure that the coffee you’re using fits all the social and environmental criteria you’re looking for. Bonus: it will also save you money.  

3. Be mindful of your brew method

There are so many different ways to brew coffee at home. Using a reusable filter for your Chemex or drip brewer, refillable or 100% compostable Ethical Bean Coffee pods for your Keurig, or a simple french press, will help reduce excess brewing waste. And don’t forget to compost your used grounds after brewing.

4. Return your coffee bags!

Ethical Bean has been running a bag return program for years, encouraging customers to send in their empty coffee bags when they’re finished with them. The details: every time you have 12 empty bags (pod bags included), send them our way via mail or drop them off in person and we’ll send you a full bag back in return (in the size of the bag sent with the least value). We send all returned bags to an innovative recycling company that specializes in developing zero-waste solutions for difficult-to-recycle waste streams. They clean, shred, and pelletize the plastic, and then find ways to integrate it into products already in production (e.g. park benches). Learn more here.

Let us know how you make your daily coffee routine more sustainable in the comments below!

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