Added: 05th June 2018
It’s World Environment Day on Tuesday 5th June so we are considering our impact on the environment a little more than usual at the moment. David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series has brought the reality of our overuse of plastics and their devastating impact on the environment firmly into the public consciousness. The effect and its ripples has been truly remarkable, with governments and large organisations across the world looking at large scale measures to reduce the environmental damage caused by plastic.
There are many small steps that we, as individual consumers can take to reduce our impact on the environment. This World Environment Day we are pleased to share some of our ideas for small changes that might just add up to big change.
1. Reduce food waste
It is estimated that UK households throw away £13 billion worth of food each year- £470 per household on average. The impact of this is not just financial loss but the energy that is consumed in producing this food is unnecessarily wasted too. It is further estimated that around a third of this waste could have been avoided, had the food been consumed in time. It therefore appears obvious that we are all overbuying, purchasing more than we really need. Simple steps like writing a shopping list, planning meals in advance, avoiding the special offers, not going shopping when hungry and moving fresh items to the freezer before they expire could result in a reduction in food waste. And you’ll save money, which you can use to buy more coffee too!
2. Compost your coffee grounds
Leftover coffee grounds need not contribute to your food waste. They can be used for a range of useful purposes and are great for composting due their high nitrogen content. They are said to be a firm favourite of worms, which is great for the garden but their natural acidity will keep away unwanted garden visitors like slugs and snails. Interestingly, coffee grounds can be used to alter the PH level of soil and are said to produce brilliant, blue hydrangeas.
3. Use a travel cup
Perhaps an obvious one for coffee lovers but fun nonetheless. With the enormous range of fun, attractive travel cups on the market we can all scour the market to find a cup we like, that represents our personality. Many of the high street coffee retailers are offering big discounts for using your own cup and Waitrose in particular has pledged to remove all takeaway coffee cups from their stores and cafes- so we will all have to bring our own! It is possible that in years to come, others will follow and the takeaway cup will decline altogether.
4. Recycle your takeaway cups
We’ve all been there- you fly out of the house in a hurry and with the best of intentions, you forget your travel cup. On the odd occasion that this happens, all is not lost. The UK’s largest coffee shop chain will recycle your paper coffee cup, even if it is not one of their cups. The other major chains are also taking positive steps to recycle as many cups as possible – check out the environment sections of their websites for more information on their sustainability initiatives.
5. Bulk buy – less packaging
We probably don’t need to do much convincing on this one – bulk buy or buy the biggest packets of coffee you can find! Bigger packs mean less packaging than several smaller packs, less trips to the shop and potentially less emissions if you drive. Just remember to use a bag clip to keep opened bags of coffee fresh – unused stale coffee will contribute to food waste.
6. Consume locally – visit your local coffee shop
Not only is visiting local coffee shops and businesses a great way to support your local economy and local business owners, it could also be a good way to reduce emissions- as opposed to driving or taking the bus to somewhere further away. It’s better still if that local coffee shop buys locally themselves- milk from local farms, bread and cakes from local bakeries and locally produced, seasonal produce.
7. Bring your own bag
We have all observed and participated in the big societal change around single use plastic carrier bags. But it’s worth a mention nonetheless and a reminder to keep bags on our person. You never know when you might want to buy some more of your favourite blend to enjoy at home or an extra muffin for later!
8. Choose used- buy vintage coffee making equipment
This is one of our favourite and possibly least considered ideas. There is a whole plethora of used and vintage coffee equipment out there, all of which is perfectly usable and capable of producing great coffee. Some of these vintage items are really cool to look at (think vintage mocha pots, cafetieres and hand grinders.) We notice that a lot of people buy expensive pod or capsule machines, which they use for a while and then tire of. These machines make their way onto online selling sites, where they sell for a fraction of the price. If you want a pod machine for home, consider buying second hand. They are hygienic by nature, with all coffee extracting taking place inside the pod and save the need for new machines being produced, not to mention the packaging that comes along with home coffee machines.
9. Bin the bottle- reuse water bottles
We use approximately 7.7 billion plastic water bottles in the UK each year, the majority of which go to landfill. Whilst they are recyclable, the sad truth is that the volume means that they simply cannot be recycled quickly enough. As with travel coffee cups, there is a wide range of reusable water bottles on the market today. Every time you use yours, you can feel good in the knowledge that you are not sending another plastic water bottle to landfill.
10. Clean Safely
Ditch the bleach and strong cleaning chemicals, many of which contain strong indoor pollutants and can be harmful to human health as well as the environment. You might not know that coffee grounds can be used as a safe and organic cleaning agent. They contain natural acids and oils and their abrasiveness makes them particularly good at cleaning the BBQ grill and pots and pans. Coffee grounds are also great odour neutralisers and a handy way to deal with household odours like garlic.
So there you have it – there are small changes every coffee lover can make to reduce their environmental impact. Before you know it you’ll be enjoying coffee like never before!