Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Can your Joe be any greener?

Each day I wake up and walk to the coffee pot like a living zombie. I feel this incredible pull towards my coffee pot so I can be able to live each day. My name is Nancy and i'm a coffee addict. I ran across this great article today  in the Huffington Post called Green Your Caffeine.  In this article you will learn a few ways to green up your caffeine habit. Great idea's but I have a few of my own to add. 

Thinking about all those years drinking coffee before I went green makes me cringe. All that pesticide filled coffee, paper coffee filters and disposable cups now haunt me in my sleep. Dreams of coffee cups that never decomposed follow me and keep saying "Way to go!". Well not really but you get the idea. 

There are several ways you can green up your cup of Joe which can be done little by little. No need to stress about it, just take baby steps. 

Switch to a French Press
This system you do not need any paper filters because it already has a built in metal filtration system. Its pretty easy to use which makes me happy. Put in your coffee grounds, put metal filter,  pour in super hot water, press the filter down and you have hot coffee. If you love a good rich cup of coffee then you will love the French Press. No paper and no energy needed equals AWESOMENESS! 

Getting the right coffee
There are several options when it comes to buying coffee. Just depends on what shade of green you want to be and how much money you are willing to spend. Here are your options:

USDA Organic-This means no pesticides or chemicals were used growing the beans. It can be found in just about any store you go into.

Fair Trade Certified-If your interested in the farmers who grow the beans then this is your best option. Fair Trade means that the farmers and and workers who grow the beans were treated humanely and paid fair in safe working conditions. 

Shade Grown-This is something new to me and I will look into finding this option. Shade Grown means that the beans were grown according to the Smithsonian Institution guidelines to protect migrating birds.  

Rainforest Alliance Certified-Basically means they were grown with "green" standards. 

If you buy coffee beans with any of these on the label then your supporting a great cause. I personally find my bulk  Organic Coffee at Winco for only $5.99 per pound. You can get a large coffee from Starbucks with that amount of money!  I ground it a the store and put it in my freezer when I get home. One pound will usually last us a month. 

Ditch the disposables!
Instead of using paper cups invest in a good stainless steel coffee mug. I recently found my Thermos stainless steel coffee mug at Costco for only $24.99. It was paired with a stainless steel soup thermos. This coffee mug should last me forever. Not many people know but paper coffee cups cannot be recycled. Now imagine how many paper cups are handed out each day at all the coffee shops. I feel a stomach ache coming on. So do me a favor and invest in a good coffee mug.  Oh and don't forget to bring it everywhere you go especially if you tend to get coffee from coffee shops. Some places even give you a few pennies off for bringing your own. 

Looking to green up your existing coffee machine?
If you have a favorite coffee machine and don't want to replace it then just invest in a metal coffee filter. My best friend gave me her coffee machine which came with this fantastic metal filter. Yes there is some plastic involved in this one but I will never have to use paper filters again. One day I will invest in a all metal filter and feel much better about it. These metal filters come in all different sizes and can be found in some stores but your best bet is to find it online. If you don't have the money right now to invest in one of these then switch from regular paper filters to compostable paper filters. This switch is the least expensive option but in time you will want to replace these with a metal filter.

Compost them!
Instead of tossing your coffee grounds in the trash, toss them into your compost. In no time you will have excellent compost! Any left over coffee from the day before gets poured into my indoor plants who by the way LOVE this. If your using compostable paper filters then simply toss the whole thing right into your compost. I sometimes just toss my coffee grounds around my plants on the soil.  I also mix them with my garden soil and use this mixture in my garden.  

Extra flavor
Instead of buying special flavored creamer that comes in plastic jugs, try to make your own special flavored coffee. Those creamers are full of tons of sugar, preservatives and who knows what else. I buy my favorite half and half from Whole Foods for only $1.29. It is not organic but it's hormone free. During the Spring and Summer I just add a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to my regular coffee. But during the Fall I add a pinch of cinnamon. Christmas I will toss a small candy cane in my coffee and stir it around. Adds just a touch of mint and is oh so yummy.  This simple tip will reduce your packaging and keep your money in your wallet. 

So take baby steps and try to green up your cup of Joe. Did I miss anything? Leave a comment and tell us your green tips when it comes to your cup of Joe!

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