Why Coffee is Increasing Your Carbon Footprint And How to Fix it. - NO HARM DONE
Climate change has been a growing topic over the years as some believe it to perhaps cause the extinction of humanity. With climate change becoming a bigger topic, words like carbon footprint and greenhouse gases have been trending. Before getting into the carbon footprint of your coffee, first let’s quickly define these terms.
- Carbon Footprint - A measure of greenhouse gasses released due to the actions of an individual/organisation/country. “It’s usually measured in tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent).”
- Greenhouse Gasses - “Any type of gas in the atmosphere that blocks heat from escaping.” The main ones we contribute to the most are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane.
Now that we understand what these words mean, let’s get to exploring the carbon footprint of coffee!
Carbon Footprint in The Coffee IndustrySimilarly to any product that has a supply chain, coffee has a carbon footprint due to the energy used and waste generated when going through the journey of being a seed at a farm to a cup of coffee in your home. Some events that cause this carbon footprint include: how the coffee was grown, how it is harvested, transportation, and consumption.
It was found that by changing how coffee is grown, transported and consumed, carbon emissions by coffee can be reduced by 77%.
It is important for us as consumers to also support the right coffee brands as the coffee industry increases their carbon footprint through other means as well. For example 85% of a national park in Indonesia was illegally deforested for coffee plantations. This increases the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
Furthermore, a large cause of water pollution in Central America is due to coffee processing plants dumping waste irresponsibly. This creates waste and hence increases the carbon footprint of your coffee. Hence, it is important to find brands who source their coffee beans from ethical and sustainable suppliers.
Carbon Footprint of a Pound of Coffee
According to research “one pound of roasted coffee produces an average of 11 pounds of carbon”. By having 1 cup of coffee a day it is calculated that you may be contributing to 155 kg greenhouse gas emissions yearly. That’s roughly the equivalent of driving a car for 640km!
Want to calculate how your food choices impact the environment? Check out BBC’s carbon emission calculator.
Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
- Keep track of your carbon footprint. By calculating your carbon footprint you can understand where to cut down on certain products more easily and manage your footprint that way.
- Supporting NO HARM DONE. Here at NO HARM DONE we sell coffee in compostable carbon neutral capsules and our coffee helps pay fair wages! By using our compostable carbon neutral capsules instead of the typical plastic/aluminium alternative you are actively reducing your carbon footprint by potentially many kg. Furthermore, while doing good for the environment you’re also helping farmers earn fair wages and so they can continue harvesting coffee beans sustainably.
- Swapping out dairy milk for plant-based milk. If you drink your coffee with dairy milk this could be a potential gradual swap for you. A glass of dairy milk daily is calculated to contribute 226kg of greenhouse gas emissions yearly. This means a glass of milk contributes 71kg more than a cup of coffee! All plant-based milk have a lower carbon footprint than dairy milk (depending on transportation distance). However, hemp milk in particular is highly recommended as it is the most sustainable compared to rice and almond milk. Some other alternatives worth considering are oat and soy milk. Want to learn more about plant-based milk? Check out our article here!
References for more reading
- Cover photo credit: Photo by Min An from Pexels