Brewing Change: 11 Tips for Sustainable Coffee Consumption and a Greener Future

–By Rosie Mae

sustainable coffee is in a mug not paper cup
Photo by Nathan Waters on Unsplash

Today is International Coffee Day! While the fashion industry runs on coffee and many people care about sustainable fashion, few seem to also bring their own reusable cups. I’ll never forget styling shoots and being involved with fashion shows and the waste that was left behind at the end of the day! With the rise of micro plastics, it’s of utmost importance for us all to recognize that even our small contributions add up. Billions of single use coffee cups are disposed of annually in the US alone. 

Here are 11 Tips to be a better coffee consumer

  1. A word of advice that could help save the planet… Each time you go out for a coffee, bring a reusable cup or mug with you. We have a HUGE waste problem when it comes to coffee cups. Paper and plastic cups are not always recyclable. If you are having coffee to-go for 365 days a year, that’s a lot of waste!
  2. Choose Fair Trade and Organic. Look for certifications like Fair Trade and organic to support ethical and sustainable coffee production. Also check that its Shade-grown coffee which promotes biodiversity and helps preserve natural habitats.
  3. When ordering a coffee while dining in, mention to your barista you’d actually prefer to have coffee in a glass or mug to stay. Some coffee shops are automatically putting ALL coffee beverages in to-go (take-away) cups.
  4. When making coffee at home… save leftover coffee and and use grounds for an easy DIY exfoliant. 
  5. Support or take part in sustainable cup rental initiatives like Cup Zero.
  6. Download the Eco-Rate app to see which sustainable cafes are in your local area. Rate your favorites. Notice which cafes go the extra mile with clearly labeled recycling areas and even compost.
  7. Avoid corporate cafes like Starbucks and Dunkin’… and instead opt for local cafes especially those that are unionized and who put their workers first. I recommend checking out IXV and The Daily Press if you’re in Brooklyn.
  8. Ditch the straws unless you absolutely need one. Props to the cafes that don’t use them…and those using metal straws, agave straws, and other biodegradable options. 
  9. Start a punch card and save money by supporting your local economy. The best part is redeeming for a free coffee (especially) on weeks when you need to penny-pinch!
  10. When brewing coffee at home, try French press, moka pot, or pour-over makers instead of single-cup coffee brewing machines which feature super polluting and hard-to-recycle pods that end up in landfills. 
  11. Learn more about single-use at We Are Atlas 238’s art installation and scavenger hunts at 148 Seconds in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. This immersive environmental exhibit suitable for all ages highlights the importance of reusable coffee cups in today’s world. 

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