Invest In Our Planet

How to Enjoy Coffee in a Greener Way

Coffee is an integral part of most cultures, fueling civilizations since the 13th century. Today, you can find a coffee shop on most corners around the world. However, most people never pause to think about where this magic elixir comes from. 

Coffee is one of the most traded commodities on the planet. Brazil is the top producer of the highly sought after bean, followed by Vietnam and Colombia. The world’s top coffee consumers are mainly European countries, such as Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark. Growing a kilogram of coffee from Brazil or Vietnam and shipping it to the UK produces 15.33 kg of carbon dioxide.

As is the case with most crops, climate change will inevitably lead to a rise in the cost of coffee and a decline in high quality crop growth due to severe weather conditions like droughts. Luckily, there are eco-conscious ways to enjoy coffee in all of its forms, mainly through buying fair-trade, shade-grown, plastic-free coffee. 

Most consumers recognize the organic label and are more likely to purchase it, but organic coffee is also better for farmers. Farmers in Nicaragua explain growing organic coffee protects the water and is safer for their family because they do not work with agrochemicals on their farm. Aside from buying organic, buying Fair Trade certified coffee ensures the coffee you are drinking comes from a farm where farmers are paid adequate and stable wages for their labor. 

Organic and fair-trade are not the same; organic standards only refer to the quality of the product itself and the environment, whereas Fair Trade certification means that the farmers receive adequate wages for their work. Therefore, it is important to find coffee that is both organic and fair-trade.

Aside from organic, shade-grown coffee is another sustainable way to grow coffee. It simply means the coffee is grown under a canopy of native trees, which increases biodiversity by encouraging the growth of local fauna and flora.

In a coffee shop, both the iced and hot containers for coffee contain plastic — paper coffee cups are lined with polyethylene plastic to make them waterproof — therefore creating large quantities of plastic pollution. Additionally, many people at home use coffee pods which are considered a single-use plastic. The best way to combat this issue is to buy coffee beans, grind them, and recycle the container. Some coffee shops provide coffee in mugs if the customer chooses to finish their coffee in the shop; likewise, one can kindly ask baristas to make their drink in a reusable coffee mug brought from home.

Given the increased rate of climate change, sometimes it can be overwhelming to think of all the different ways we can help our planet. Despite this, if we integrate small changes in our daily lives, like buying different coffee, our positive impact on our planet can start to add up. If we choose to change our habits, we choose to Invest in our Planet and make the necessary changes to bring forth a better tomorrow.