Small steps, small cups

Since this is Blog Action Day, I thought I’d take a look at how I per­ceive my morn­ing routine is impact­ing cli­mate change — no real hard sci­ence here, but just my ped­es­tri­an per­spect­ive on  my poten­tial impact on the planet.My think­ing may be wrong-headed in places (please let me know) but this post is really a review of a series of con­scious decisions I’ve made over the years to con­tin­ue to enjoy cof­fee, and lessen the impact I make.

It’s all about me
My morn­ing cup of cof­fee is not just a ritu­al, it’s essen­tial. Over the years I’ve used per­col­at­ors, drip machines, French Press devices and most recently, a Keruig K‑Cup device. I enjoy grind­ing my own beans and exper­i­ment­ing with vari­ous roasts.

At the drive through
Also over the years, when I’ve missed my morn­ing brew at home, I’ve had to spend time in the Tim Hor­tons drive through. This is bad from an vehicle idling perspective…I’m try­ing to reduce this.

Impacts: Vehicle emis­sions, time, energy

Reduced wastage
In my perk, drip, carafe days, I used to make a full pot of cof­fee in the morn­ing. This would occa­sion­ally be shared with my wife, and the remainder dumped into a ther­mos and taken to work and either con­sumed or thrown out at the end of the day.

I felt like I was sav­ing money (not buy­ing a fresh cof­fee) and not wast­ing the morn­ing leftovers. Sure, it had con­tin­ued stew­ing in the ther­mos for a few hours until I drank it, and it was more bit­ter then, but it was drink­able. Just not a good cup of Joe.

Of course, now I had to wash both my travel mug, my ther­mos, and the cof­fee brew pot / carafe. I was not happy with the water wasted on clean­ing.

Impacts: Water waste, energy waste (brew­ing dis­carded cof­fee), time

Single cup solu­tion

My exper­i­ment­a­tion in grind­ing also pro­duced incon­sist­ent res­ults. Often we wer­en’t pleased  with the res­ults.

So we inves­ted in a more con­sist­ent cof­fee solu­tion by pick­ing up a K‑Cup machine. For me, this makes sense in so many ways:

  • We always enjoy our cof­fee
  • Pre-meas­ured water usage
  • Pre-meas­ured cof­fee pack­ets (cups)
  • Reusable cof­fee fil­ter option (lets me exper­i­ment with grinds & roasts)
  • Min­im­al cleanup (just wash the mugs)

But, you may say, I’m increas­ing my impact buy increas­ing the amount of pack­aging pro­duced and dis­carded for each cup I con­sume.

That is true, but we’ve taken some steps to even reduce that impact. You see, Edmon­ton (the city I live in) has a world-class recyc­ling facil­ity. They handle an amaz­ing amount of recyc­lable mater­i­al. And with a little bit of extra work, we’re able to break down those K‑cups into mater­i­als that can (I believe) be safely recycled.

The K‑cup con­sists of four com­pon­ents and it’s a simple mat­ter to reduce the cup to its com­pon­ents for appro­pri­ate hand­ling:

  • Plastic cup — recycle
  • Paper fil­ter — recycle or dis­card
  • Cof­fee grounds — flush down the sink (roughage to keep the pipes clean)
  • Com­bin­a­tion foil / plastic seal­ing lid — dis­card
Impacts: Pack­aging waste

Reusing the K‑cup
Of course, the best solu­tion for me is the Keur­ig My K‑Cup Reusable Cof­fee Fil­ter. It’s a mini-fil­ter bas­ket that sits inside a hold­er. Simply place your own ground cof­fee inside and viola, a fresh cup of cof­fee in a minute or so. Noth­ing to dis­card and easy to wash. And aside from ini­tial pro­duc­tion inputs, no real impact aside from clean­ing.

Impacts: Water waste

Ok, enough about me and my quest to achieve my per­fect (and cli­mate friendly) brew. Time for your thoughts.

Is this a minor step? Per­haps a very small step, and does it mat­ter? I think so, but then, I’m not really in a pos­i­tion to judge. I’m just one small con­sumer that’s try­ing to help out in my own small way. How ’bout you?

Published by Brad Grier geek.hack