Coffee #1

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.

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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.

 

Bibliography

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/

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Coffee #1

  1. Interesting blog piece- how does coffee compare to other farmed crops though? After all, we need to eat something 🙂

    Like

  2. I really appreciate your blog and I enjoyed reading it.
    When the label emerged, I was a huge fan of buying “Fairtrade” products. It appears to be more than fair that the farmers receive some extra money for their work, and they have better working conditions. Obviously, the distributors and companies could also reduce their slice of the pie, but I thought I could do as well.
    This slightly changed after reading an article in the German newspaper die Zeit (http://www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/2014-08/fairetrade-kaffee) that denies fundamental changes initiated by the “Fairtrade” labelling. Following these claims, there is no long-term success due to huge certification fees and the greed for money of the intermediaries. Paying additional 50 Cent in Germany, the coffee farmer only gets 0,3 Cent. Consequently, it is hard to distinguish between “real” labels and the ones that aim at enriching companies instead of the farmer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The fact that we use one plastic cup for the pleasure of drinking one (!) coffee (which takes what? Five to ten minutes?) makes me really angry. The billions of disposable coffee cups used once and then thrown away definitely need to be replaced by reusable ones. A study by the Cardiff University shows that by charging the plastic bag in the UK, its use has decreased immensely. This might be worth considering for the plastic cups also!?
    Also, I think some cafés (also in Hanover) offer some kind of reward if you bring your own reusable cup. I’m not sure which ones, but it might be time (for me) to find out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like your critical discussion about the top. However, I doubt that so could/would change my morning coffee habit. That’s a sad thing to say, but in my opinion a lot of people think this way. The issue is too dislocated from us that we could feel thoroughly connected to it.

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