Reducing Coffee Waste. I mean you, Keurig.

coffee

My office, like many offices, has a Keurig coffee machine (if you aren’t familiar, it’s the machine that makes individual servings of coffee and tea from little plastic cups). I, like many web designers, suffer from a coffee addiction and make coffee at work from K-cups. I’ve been able to overlook the little cups I discard every day, but this week I was musing that at 2 cups a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, that’s a shocking 500 K-CUPS – and that’s just from me!

This might not be so unforgivable if the alternative, coffee in a regular coffee maker, leaves behind coffee grounds and a filter, both of which are biodegradable and compostable. So we are creating waste from something that used to create no waste at all.

I am unwilling to give up coffee – that is another issue for another time – but like a sign from the gods, the very next day my husband brought me home a reusable mug from his new job (at Great Wolf Lodge!), so I decided to switch my habit. I am now making my beloved Bustelo at home, perhaps with cardamom, and carting it in – just a tiny shift that is one shade greener.

Note: this is not to be ungrateful. Surely the office that springs for a Keurig machine is more generous than one that provides the old school pots with grainy dregs in the bottom. Also, Keurig itself recognizes the problem and is making efforts to become more socially responsible. So I won’t write them off completely, but in the meantime I’ll be toting my own.

Cloth Napkins, Scraps, and BYOF

Here are 3 easy things you can do to be a just little bit greener whilst cooking and lunching.

Cloth Napkins

Although it’s actually greener to use recycled paper napkins at restaurants, it is marginally greener using cloth napkins at home. (See this informative little article on TreeHugger.com). Yes you have to wash them and that uses energy, but (shh) I don’t wash them after every meal. Not fancy at all, in fact quite the opposite, I get the paper napkins out for guests. Even little Zoeya takes a cloth napkin in her lunch box.

Kitchen Scraps

This surprised me, but it’s actually greener to throw your scraps away than to put them down the disposal. Down the drain, they will have to be treated with chemicals and will be strained out and sent to the landfill anyway. So shift your habit! Now I can feel a little better about all those months the disposal was broken. Of course, scraps in the landfill are not much better, leftover food will sit around releasing methane, so the best thing of all to do is compost.

BYOF

Bring your own fork! This is a big one for me, I bring my lunch to work every day and I forget to do this half the time and end up using one of the plastic forks from the break room. Reducing single-use plastic products is a really important thing to do; besides filling up our landfills, plastic takes a huge toll on marine life. This is something I’m really going to focus on. I use reusable shopping bags, we have a water filter instead of buying bottled water, and I’m really going to try to remember to pack my fork.