Green Your Morning Coffee

By Sharon Naylor

March 30, 2012 4 min read

Don?t you just love the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning? If you enjoy your first-thing java -- whether decaf, half-caf or mega-caf -- you?ll surely want to go green with your morning coffee ritual. Here are the top ways to do so:

--Choose organic coffee beans or blends that are also fair trade-certified, meaning their growing conditions and the conditions for the company?s workers meet high standards of eco-responsibility. Do some research into the coffee company by visiting their website, and learn about where and how their coffee beans are grown and harvested. Make every effort to avoid greenwashing, which is when a company says it's organic but in reality its product is only 20-percent organic.

--Buy shade-grown coffee. Coffee connoisseurs say that shade-grown coffee has a richer flavor, and environmentalists in several U.S. and international regions say that shade-growing protects the natural habitats of migratory birds.

--Brew your own coffee. When possible, brew at home, using bulk-purchased, fair trade, organic coffee beans. It might be an easy first step to brew your own coffee on the weekends, which also eliminates the carbon footprint of driving to a coffee shop.

--Go green with your filters. Using a reusable coffee filter such as the "gold"-style mesh metal filter found in some drip coffee makers can keep hundreds of paper filters out of landfills each year. In paper coffee filters, choose organic filters, or choose recycled, unbleached coffee filters, which the Environmental Protection Agency says can be composted.

--Compost your coffee grounds, as well. Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, which helps create excellent compost for your garden and landscape, so add your grounds to your kitchen compost collection, or make a morning trip to your outside compost bin to deposit those nutrient-rich grounds.

--Use a reusable transport container and mug. This is one of the best ways to green your morning coffee. A BPA-free, metal coffee container lets you take your coffee on the go without using disposable cups. Styrofoam cups can take hundreds of years to decompose, often ending up in the ocean to release toxic chemicals that harm marine life. Paper coffee cups require more resources to make, but may be bleached and otherwise toxic. Many coffee shops sell eco-friendly reusable coffee travel mugs and everyday mugs, and they?ll gladly fill your travel mug for you -- perhaps offering a discount on your morning coffee. At home and at the office, use mugs for your coffee, not disposable coffee cups.

--Use metal spoons. Those wooden stirring sticks just become waste, and hot drinks should never be stirred with plastic utensils or thin plastic stirring straws.

--Use organic sweeteners. Certified organic sugar is 50 percent less processed than white sugar, and you will find fair-trade organic sugar that has been marked as CarbonFree by Carbonfund.org. Another type of organic sweetener is stevia, which may be found in fine sugar-like texture or as a natural sweet syrup.

--Use organic milk. Shop for a reputable brand of certified 100-percent organic milk, exploring the tastes of soy milk, almond milk and other varieties to find the flavor and silkiness that?s perfect for your morning coffee.

--And of course, upgrade to Energy Star coffee makers and coffee grinders, which operate far more efficiently than appliances without the Energy Star seal. You'll save on your energy bills throughout the year, as well.

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