We all love our coffee and tea, and as parents of little ones, it's not a luxury, it's essential to have a cup (or five) a day. However, it's a fact that our caffeine habit can be harmful for the environment.
Surely our humble cup of tea isn't bad for the environment? Most tea bags actually include plastic. This means that you can't even put them in your brown bin. However, there are more and more brands, such as Lyons, that do offer biodegradable tea bags, so keep an eye out for these the next time you are doing a shop.
Even better, avoid tea bags altogether and use tea leafs. This sounds like hassle, but if you get a single cup tea strainer, it's so easy. No throwing away tea bags, and no need for a spoon. You could also just throw some tea leafs into a teapot.
It's also really important that you look out for the Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade trademarks when you are buying your tea, and if possible look for certified organic tea.
Our growing demand for coffee has led to the growth of sun-grown coffee, where trees are cleared to plant large plantations of coffee. This deforestation leads to a loss of habitat for animals and a loss of plant life, and of course increased carbon into the atmosphere. The lack of cover from trees then leads to soil erosion. This method of growing coffee also leads to the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides which then leads to water contamination as chemicals expelled from these plantations make their way to waterways. Not great is it?
But fear not, there are ways to ensure that your coffee footprint is less damaging to the environment.
The first step is to make sure that the coffee you purchase is a Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance brand, of which there are plenty. There are companies such as our favourite, Moyee Coffee, which go even further and work closely with farmers, cutting out the large corporations that purchase most of the world's coffee. This guarantees that the farmers get paid more, and are encouraged to grow coffee in the most sustainable way possible.
What else can you do?
Have your coffee at home
- Use a filter coffee maker such as an Aeropress.
- If you have a coffee maker, get one that does not use the coffee pods, or if it does, use reusable pods.
- If using a machine, descale your machine regularly so it is more efficient.
- Use your machine in eco mode.
- Compost your coffee filters (if possible) and grinds. Use reusable pods and reusable coffee filters. Paper filters are not great for the environment and many can't be composted.
If you are out, sit down in the cafe with a proper cup and take a well deserved break rather than getting it to go. If you need to take it away, use your own takeaway cup if possible as even to this day, most takeaway cups are not biodegradable.
You don't have to give up your coffee or tea in order to live a sustainable life, but simple changes in your habits can make a big difference to the environment.