Like many of you, I like to have a cup of coffee in the morning and in the afternoon. If possible, I enjoy a steaming mug of coffee at home or at a local café but sometimes it is more convenient to have it to take away as my daily routine is pretty full on. Due to the current trend towards a healthier and more eco friendly lifestyle, I read a lot of articles about the environmental impact the coffee production as well as its consumption have. Therefore this blog post is concerned with the effects of our coffee consumption on our planet.
Coffee is the most popular drink world wide. In the UK alone, we drink over 55 million cups of coffee per day (British Coffee Association, 2017). About 700.000 of them are consumed to take away out of disposable cups (Fearnley-Whittingstall, 2016). With a current population of 65.110.000 people in the UK (Office for National Statistics, 2016) almost everyone has at least one cup of coffee per day. Why should this affect me, you might ask? With every mug of coffee you drink, you increase the environmental effects the coffee production and consumption have on our planet.
The huge demand of coffee triggers the need for an extension of crop growing and therefore for bigger fields. In order to keep pace with the progress, the coffee growing countries have to deforest their tree population to make space for larger acres. The deforestation leads to a declining wildlife habitat (Lights, 2013).
Apart from the deforestation and the resulting wildlife displacement, the coffee production requires large amounts of water. For seven grams of coffee which equals one hot mug of coffee, 132 litres of water are used for its production (stern.de GmbH, 2017). This is the same amount of water, that fits into an average bath tub. But why is the amount of water used affecting the environment? Researchers have proven the connection of our supply chains to the use of water. The increasing usage of water resources is linked to catastrophes like water shortage and water pollution (Water Footprint Network). If you´re interested in further reading concerning water usage and actions that can be taken to prevent the world´s water crises you should head to http://waterfootprint.org.
This blog post is concerned with coffee and its impact on our environment, therefore I will not further establish the cons of our water usage but an other factor, that makes coffee consumption harmful to the environment.
We as a society tend to be in a hurry. Apart from resulting health issues, this trend also affects our coffee consumption. Instead of taking our time to have our coffee at a café, we have it to take away in branded paper cups. Like me, 700.000 other people per day have their coffee out of disposable cups. This only makes up a small percentage of 1,2% of the total coffee consumption per day, so why bother? The paper cups are coated with a plastic lining in order to prevent the hot beverage from leaking through the cup. The coating needs approximately 30 years to degrade. During this time, the coating transforms into micro plastics, which then enter the hydrological circle. The consequences on humans and wild life are yet to be investigated (Verbraucherzentrale NRW, 2017).
Sounds like we shouldn´t have coffee anymore, right? Well, not quite. This blog post wasn´t meant to stop you from drinking coffee but simply to raise awareness of the issues there are with our favourite beverage. In the next blog post I will show you different ways to reduce the impact of your coffee consumption on our environment.
British Coffee Association. (2017). British Coffee Association. Acceessed 29 May 2017 by Coffee Facts: http://www.britishcoffeeassociation.org/about_the_bca/
Fearnley-Whittingstall, H. (27. 07 2016). BBC. Acceessed 29 May 2017 by Magazine: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-36882799
Lights, Z. (20. 05 2013). One Green Planet. Acceessed 29 May 2017 by Coffee and its Impact on People, Animals and the Planet: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/coffee-and-its-impact-on people-animals-and-the-planet/
Office for National Statistics. (23. 06 2016). Office for National Statistics. Acceessed 29 May 2017 by Population estimates: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration populationestimates
stern.de GmbH. (29. 05 2017). Stern. Acceessed 29 May 2017 by So viel Wasser schlucken Kaffee, Jeans, Brötchen und Chips: http://www.stern.de/panorama/wissen/wasserverbrauch–so-viel-wasser-steckt-in kaffee–jeans-und-chips-3603210.html
Verbraucherzentrale NRW. (04. 01 2017). Verbraucherzentrale Nordrhein-Westfalen. Acceessed 6 June 2017 by Coffee to go: Einweg-Becher vermeiden: http://www.verbraucherzentrale.nrw/-einfach-mehrfach—einweg-becher vermeiden-1#warumdereinwegbecherumweltschaedlichist
Water Footprint Network. (kein Datum). water footprint network. Acceessed 29 May 2017 by what is a water footprint?: http://waterfootprint.org/en/water footprint/what is-water-footprint/