Aug 8, 2008

[Environmentalism] Coffee Conservationism

Starbucks, Cathedral Square, Peterborough, UK....Image via WikipediaOkay, let's face it - if you're part of the working world or the highly studies school set, then you've probably bought into the specialty coffee culture, Starbucks, Seattle's Best Coffee, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Figaro - you name it, you buy it. We know we're paying way too much for caffeine, but we continue to pay for it since (1) they're pretty good, (2) the number of options gets insane at times, (3) office peer pressure and (4) we're media junkies that way.

So given you're already in this culture, there's a thing or two you can do to make yourself feel a little bit better for spending more than Php 100 (or more than $3.00 depending on your location) for a cup of coffee or tea. While you won't necessarily save that much in terms of money, you will save a bit in terms of environmental impact.

Try it - they're not too hard.

The biggest one is use a personal mug. Come on, you're addicted enough to coffee for at least one thoughtful friend to have bought you a signature spill-proof mug from your favorite specialty coffee shop. You might even have more than one or worse - you may have bought one for yourself! I hope you got it from your local department store instead of the over-priced ones at the coffee shops. It's not about quality there, you're paying for the brand.

Anyway, personal mugs are great since most coffee stores offer terribly modest discounts (what can you do with Php 5.00 these days?), but it's better than nothing in these penny-pinching times. Better yet though, this means you don't waste resources in terms of all the components that go into your coffee cup - the paper or plastic cup itself, the plastic lid, and the straw or the thermal sleeve, depending on whether you bought a hot or cold drink.

If you don't own a personal mug and are having the coffee in-store, ask for a "for here" mug, or whatever its equivalent is. Stop using the paper cups and trust the ceramic ones they have (or the glass ones at Coffee Bean). They tend to be a lot of fun, they let you smell your coffee better and thus ultimately enjoy it more.

For you gardeners out there, try asking for their used coffee grounds to be used as fertilizer. Starbucks goes as far as branding them as "Grounds for your Greens" so it probably doesn't hurt to ask the other stores what they do with their used coffee grounds. Every bit counts, right?

Of course ultimately the best way to save (in more ways than one) is to cut down on your specialty coffee intake by brewing coffee at home and bringing it to work or school in a sealed thermos. The true caffeine connoisseur ought to know how to brew his or her own coffee and have the means to bring coffee or tea with them on the road. That really saves you a lot and reduces the need for all these specialty coffee shops that use up a lot of power playing cheesy jazz music, but then you've already been bitten by the culture as I established at the beginning of this entry.

Or should I say that you;'ve already "taken a drink" of this culture? Ugh, the metaphor doesn't translate well, I guess.

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