There’s no denying that we have a major plastic problem — could your coffee habits be to blame?
We’ve all seen them, used them, many of us own them. The sharp pop of the plastic capsule is familiar for most, as two holes are pierced and hot water gurgles through for a perfect, instant cup of coffee every time. Making use of the Dutch word for excellence, this individual coffee brewing system — the Keurig — has completely changed the way that the modern consumer drinks coffee.
I can remember the first time I used one of these convenient coffee creators — my friend had a small one in her dorm room at college that we would frequent between classes; a quick and easy way to brew before the hours-long study sessions in the library.
I remember being so excited to team up with my siblings and buy one for my parents at Christmas — to gift them with all the ease of a speedy cup on the way out the door to work.
I also remember being in charge of ordering and supplying the different K-Cup flavors for the office during a summer job — French roast, Breakfast blend, even flavors like blueberry, cinnamon roll — and being sure that we maintained ample supply for visitors or sleepy employees to enjoy a cup, just the way you like it. Each morning, I would ensure that the closet was stocked…and each evening I would gather bags of trash filled with the discarded plastic shells.
Despite their convenience, these little plastic pods are more sinister than they might seem.
The amount of plastic waste generated by Keurig K-Cups is truly obscene. It is estimated that “in 2014, enough K-Cups were sold that if placed end-to-end, they would circle the globe 10.5 times. Almost all of them ended up in landfills.”
K-Cups are not recyclable. Most Keurig coffee pods are made of #7 “other” plastic, or an unknown mixture of different kinds of plastics that is rarely accepted at recycling centers.
Not only that, but brewing coffee in a small plastic capsule has health risks of its own.
Many times, #7 plastics contain polystyrene, “a possible carcinogen” which “can wreak havoc on the nervous systems of those handling it”. Though Keurig has been researching relentlessly over the past several years to design a recyclable single-use coffee pod, the fact remains that, even after the new recyclable model hits the shelves, Keurig “will still be selling billions of pieces of plastic each year”. It also is completely up to the user whether the cups are opened, cleaned, and sorted for recycling — or not.
There’s really no doubt about it — K Cups are an environmental tragedy. Each cup brewed with this system, each plastic cup tossed away, contributes to this massive issue. And the fact is that our purchase choices matter. What we support with our money and brand loyalty has a direct impact on our planet, and on every player along the supply chain.
As you consider Christmas gifts this holiday, please choose to RE-consider your Keurig machine, and opt for a more sustainable option. Other methods of coffee preparation such as drip coffee machines, pour-overs, and french presses, provide a better option to brew a fresh cup of joe without wasteful worries.
You can also ensure that your purchase is both sustainable and socially responsible by purchasing one of our artisan-designed Chorreadors (traditional Costa Rican dripper), through our partnership with Habia Una Vezas a sustainable option for a single-serve cup of coffee. Similar to your Keurig machine, these brewers make delicious personal cups — minus the waste. Paired with a bag of our farmer-roasted coffee, it’s perfect to gift or to display on your kitchen counter.
It takes all of us, committed to fight the plague of single use plastics, to make a dent in this issue. Let’s join together to fight unnecessary waste and support initiatives which stand up for the well-being of all!