Like most college students, I’m an avid coffee drinker, but routinely brewing cup after cup can create a lot of waste if you’re not careful about it. Since today is Earth Day, it’s a good time to examine your coffee habits and find ways to sustainably maintain your coffee addiction with as little harm to the environment as possible. After all, you might suffer from your coffee addiction, but the Earth doesn’t have to.
Get reusable coffee mugs. This one is the simplest tip, but it’s actually great for both the environment and your wallet. Styrofoam sits in landfills for up to thousands of years, which means every piece of styrofoam ever made is currently sitting in a landfill somewhere; stop contributing to this! Most coffee shops, Dunkin and the UConn Cafes included, will give you a discount on your coffee if you order a refill and give them your own cup to fill. Not to mention, your metal coffee mug will keep your coffee warm for a lot longer.
Buy a reusable straw. This one is pretty obvious, as UConn has been pushing students to do this for the past year. Straws and plastic lids aren’t recyclable, so even if you think you’re being environmentally friendly by recycling your coffee cup when you’re finished with it, you’re really not. If you don’t have the money to buy a reusable coffee cup right now, you can at least buy a metal straw now that iced coffee season is upon us. The Beanery and Wilbur’s are both currently selling them for $2, and you can use your points to buy one, so you don’t even have to look that far to get one.
Stop. Using. K-cups. I’ll say this one louder for the people in the back because it’s so important. If you’re drinking two to three (if not more) cups of coffee a day, you’re throwing away a lot of plastic K-Cups. If you continue this for a year, you’d throw away over 1000 of them. They might be convenient, but they go straight to landfills and don’t decompose since they’re made of plastic. I love my Keurig more than anyone, but there are ways to use it that aren’t as detrimental to the environment.
The easiest solution is to buy a reusable K-Cup. You can buy them on Amazon for less than $4, but if you don’t want to support Jeff Bezos, then you can buy them for cheap anywhere. You fill them with coffee grounds and use them the same way you would use a normal K-Cup, and afterward, you just dump out the coffee grounds and you’re good to use it again. Not to mention, K-Cups are ridiculously overpriced, which means this also saves your wallet in the long run.
Costco sells certain brands of K-Cups that are made with less plastic and are thus compostable, but the prices can get a bit steep, so your best bet is still to buy a reusable K-Cup.
Buy recycled or reusable coffee filters. If you use a traditional coffee maker, you can buy recycled coffee filters. Or, even better, you can buy a reusable one. It’s the same idea as the reusable K-Cup, just on a larger scale. A lot of coffee filters are chlorine-bleached to begin with, and all of them end up in landfills. Reduce your waste and buy a reusable one!
Use a French Press. French Presses are not only super boujee, but they brew great-tasting coffee and don’t use any kind of filter, which means they don’t create any waste. They’re often cheaper than coffee makers and all you need to do is add your favorite coffee grounds and some hot water. Plus, they’ll last longer than coffee makers, which will reduce waste in the long run.
Compost. Lastly, coffee grounds are compostable! They add nitrogen to the soil, and many people choose to use them as fertilizer for their gardens.
Since Earth Day is upon us, it’s a good time to take a step back and examine how some of your every-day habits affect our environment. Like with coffee drinking, there’s a variety of easy steps you can take to reduce the waste you produce, and oftentimes you can save money while doing it. Reduce your coffee waste, reuse your coffee filters and recycle your cups, not their lids.
Courtney Gavitt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.