Go Green with Your Java Bean

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If you have coffee every day, you’re making an environmental choice.  That’s right – even a daily cup of coffee can have a real impact.  Choosing fair trade and organic coffees over ordinary coffee, making your morning cup at home instead of drinking a brew from Starbuck’s or another restaurant, and the way you choose to make your coffee all affect the environment.  Here are a few options you can use to have an environmentally cup of java.

Fair Trade certification has been getting a lot of press, and for good reason.  Fair Trade certified coffee means that the farmers who grew it got a good price, and have been given assistance such as help in becoming organic growers.  Organic coffee is also a good choice, since neither you nor the environment will be exposed to the high levels of pesticides often found in standard coffee crops.  Sales of organic coffee went up by about a quarter in 2006, and have been rising since as people become more and more aware of what goes into producing the food they eat every day.

Shade grown beans are another excellent choice.  You see, coffee is at heart a plant that loves shade, and traditional cultivation once had this crop grown under standing trees.  This kept the native forest and the animals who lived there relatively safe.  Only plantation crops have brought conventional coffee growing into the sun, destroying the forest in the hopes of higher yields.  There are still farmers growing their coffee under shade trees, however.  Their crops are high quality and offer sanctuary to migratory birds and other creatures.

Brewing makes a difference, too, as does where you get your coffee.  Choosing to brew at home reduces trash significantly, plus you’ll save a lot of money.  You’ll have a lower environmental impact if you choose to use a classic percolator or a French press than if you use a drip machine that requires disposable filters.  If you do need filters, look for ones made from recycled unbleached paper, and remember that they and your coffee grounds are compostable!

The good news is that all these types of coffee are getting much easier to get.  You can find organic and Fair Trade coffees at big box stores and at your local coffee shop, with even more options available at most food co-ops and natural and organic foods stores.  More than thirty countries grow organic coffee, including US growers, so you can choose relatively local coffee if you prefer it.  The local foods movement focuses on foods grown only a short distance from your home, reducing the mileage and fossil fuel use required to produce them.

If you love coffee, don’t think you have to give yours up.  Instead, look for fair trade, organic, and shade grown alternatives that will allow you to enjoy an even tastier cup that’s also guilt free.  You’ll be glad you took the time, and in many cases, the extra surcharge is worth it just for the improved quality of the coffee.

Related posts:

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  3. The Environmental Impact of Food Miles: What You Can Do To Help
  4. Green Up Your Valentine’s Day
  5. Green Choices: Food Security vs. Industrial Tiger
  6. Purchasing Food Locally in an Eco-Friendly Way

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