If I’ve learned one thing about sustainability through the past year, its to respect progress over perfection. Ideally, we could create a more sustainable home environment at the drop of a hat, but the reality is that making a shift towards a more eco-conscious way of living can require the investment of both time and money. I’ve also learned, however, that at any given time you can easily start making more intentional decisions that help lead you to a more sustainable life. Along the process towards living more sustainably, cultivating a more sustainable coffee ritual has been one of my favorite tasks.
It’s incredibly rewarding to make positive change in daily habits since you can actually see that change every single day. Coffee is something that so many of us consume on a daily basis; becoming intentional with our purchases, consumption, brewing and waste is such an empowering way to have a positive impact on our environment. There are so many opportunities to add intention to the coffee making/consuming process and, much to the pleasure of my taste buds, making many of these changes has resulted in a much tastier cup of home brewed coffee. This in itself has added so much joy to the coffee brewing ritual — there is something so gratifying about a smooth cup of pour over coffee!
Why I Call it a Ritual
Many of us choose to start our day with a hot cup of coffee. First hand I know that the habit of drinking coffee can get lost in the mix of the business of the morning. By calling my coffee drinking a “ritual” I’m saying: I value my morning cup of coffee because the aroma, taste and and process brings me joy. This is me staking a claim on that cup of coffee being a joyful and intentional part of my day vs. being something I’m simply consuming because I need caffeine. Giving it that power of intention allows me to see it as a moment of daily self care and joy vs. it strictly being a routine.
Inspiring vs. Teaching
Through this whole sustainability process, I’ve learned so much from others. I’ve taken their experiences, adapted it and turned them into changes that fit my way of life. Thus, my point here isn’t to “teach” you, as much as it is to inspire you to observe and question ways you too could make small impactful changes in your own life. Because all of our lives and situations are different, but all of our actions DO matter. And we should feel empowered by that. So let’s get down to it, yeah?
How to Cultivate a Sustainable Coffee Ritual
Ditch the Single Use Pods and K-cups.
This is a good example of how convenience can get the best of us. While the idea of instantly brewed pre-measured coffee seemed like a good one at the time, even the creator of the Keurig has, at times, openly regretted this decision. Billions of K-cups are used each year, and while the K-cups are making a shift towards recyclability and biodegradability, that still means that the consumer must ensure they are being properly recycled. Personally, I find the coffee from a k-cup to taste less than mediocre anyway, and it makes me uncomfortable to think that near boiling water is being filtered through flimsy plastic. My advice: if you’re going to use a keurig, look to getting the reusable pod filters for adding your own coffee grounds.
Buy Fair-trade and/or Ethically Sourced Coffee
Through the last year, I’ve come to understand that sustainability isn’t solely about the environment, but also about ethical practices and human/worker’s rights. Coffee is a food that involves a lot of unsustainable and unethical practices in terms of unfair wages and poor (read: dangerous) working environments. Buying fair-trade and organic coffee ensures that the farmers’ are receiving fair wages and treatment, farming is being done responsibly and that the community at the source of the coffee is not being exposed to harmful chemical pesticides. There are a lot of delicious generic fair-trade coffee brands that cost just a few dollars more per pound than conventional coffee.
I love seeing coffee as a cool opportunity to support small/new businesses and try out a variety of ethically sourced coffees — adding even more intention to such a simple aspect of life. Check around your local area and see if you have a local roastery you could support! I was surprised at just how many local roasters existed in my small city.
Experiment with Slower Brewing Methods
Trying french press and pour over was a game changer for my home brewed coffee game. While it might take slightly longer than brewing from a standard drip coffee machine, I find it to be incredibly worth it. The smoothness of a cup of slow brewed coffee is unparalleled. Plus, the morning ritual of making the pour over coffee feels very meditative. If you’re a person who could benefit from slowing down, why not just slow down when doing something you would have done anyway? With pour over you’ll still need a filter, but using a french press eliminates the need for paper waste all together.
Try Reusable Coffee Filters
I’ll admit, this is something I still haven’t done. On my product wishlist are organic hemp reusable coffee filters for using in our pour over (apparatuses?) and drip coffee machine. There is also a removable basket in many modern drip coffee machines that could simply be used as a filter all on its own. Currently, I buy generic brand of filters made from recycled materials that are compostable and biodegradable.
Compost (or Reuse) your Coffee Grounds and Filters
Coffee grounds are very rich in nitrogen and, when composted, they can really improve the health of your soil. If you get biodegradable coffee filters you can also add those to your compost bin and keep them out of the garbage can. Current life goal: buy a house, just so I can start composting.
If you don’t have a compost bin, you can still reuse your coffee grounds! Mix them with olive oil, honey and cinnamon in a jar and use it as an exfoliating scrub in the shower!
Carry a Travel Mug or Mason Jar
Sometimes I buy coffee on the run — whether traveling, shopping or just because. I try my best to keep a travel mug with me so I can spare the use of a paper or plastic cup. (Note: I’m not perfect.) I find it can be helpful to keep a spare one in your car for impromptu coffee trips! I’m a huge fan of Healthy Human tumblers for hot coffee, and in the summer I love a good old fashioned mason jar!
a Few Concluding Thoughts
Broken record says: P R O G R E S S O V E R P E R F E C T I O N.
Coffee aside, the main point of this is to show how you can pick just one task/activity/area and within that find multiple ways to live more intentionally. Focus in on one area/thing, and discover all the small digestible changes you can make. In doing so, you’re much more likely to see it through. So start with one small goal and then be so proud of yourself when suddenly you look back and realize you’ve made 10 lasting changes through the course of a year. The best we can do is to just try.
If you’re reading this: know that I so greatly appreciate your support. ! If you have questions or want to keep the discussion going on this post, please feel free to contact me via my contact page or comment below!