It’s easy to go on autopilot with something you do every day – like drinking a cup of coffee.
You might be brewing – or buying – the same cup over and over, but when was the last time you considered the environmental impact it was having?
Environmental charity City to Sea is trying to get people to think about their morning cup of coffee a bit more, and has just launched a new pilot scheme allowing Bristol consumers to “borrow” reusable coffee cups from one café, and return them elsewhere when they’re empty.
This is a bid to cut down on the staggering 2.5 billion single-use cups thrown away in the UK every year.
So what are some of the other ways you can make your daily cup of coffee a bit more sustainable?
1. Ditch single-use cups
The City to Sea scheme will be fully rolled out in Bristol by autumn 2022, with other cities hoping to follow. However, if you don’t live in a place where the scheme operates, maybe it will still get you thinking about the waste involved in your daily brew.
If you regularly buy coffee, something as simple as investing in a reusable cup could dramatically cut down on waste.
2. Try a coffee pot or French press
If you want to make your coffee at home, why not consider buying an appliance that doesn’t use up extra electricity?
A French press or drip coffee maker will probably cost you a lot less than a fancy coffee machine, and you can still get a delicious brew – all you need to do is boil some water, and have coffee grounds to hand.
To really minimise your carbon footprint, you could even try making a cold brew – where you don’t even have to boil any water for your cup.
3. Consider where your coffee comes from
There are so many different types of coffee out there, it can be overwhelming to know what to pick – particularly if you’re worried about how ethical and sustainable it is.
For an easy hack, look out for coffee with the ‘Fairtrade’ label. Why? “Fairtrade sets social, economic and environmental criteria.
For producers, these Standards include protection of workers’ rights, environmentally sound, climate-friendly farming practices and criteria to ensure product quality,” the foundation says.
It doesn’t have to cost the earth either – lots of supermarket brands stock Fairtrade coffee, including Aldi, Lidl and Sainsbury’s.
4. Test out different coffee pods
If you do have a coffee machine that uses pods, you might want to have a think about what kind you’re using.
Each type of pod is different – you might be able to recycle yours, but some contain virgin aluminium, and others are made up of plastic parts.
As the pods are single-use, it’s worth looking at the type you have – and considering the impact it might be having on the environment.
If you want to be more sustainable, opt for a coffee pod you can recycle or compost yourself. For example, the Grind pods are fully compostable at home (£9.95, grind.co.uk).
5. Reuse your coffee grounds
This is a great one for extending the life cycle of your morning cup of coffee. Instead of dumping out used coffee grounds when you’re done with them, did you know they can be reused in a multitude of ways?
Sprinkle the grounds on your garden and they’ll act as a natural fertiliser and insect repellent. Or maybe make them into a DIY exfoliating skin scrub – just because you’ve had your coffee, it doesn’t mean you can’t continue to find more uses for it.