14 August 2016

#GoneGreen2016 | Day 154 / 365 | Sustainable Switch: Coffee Pod Intervention with Ethical Bean


Day 154 / 365

As someone who works from home - and who formally worked from an office - I can totally get wanting to have a cup of coffee equivalent to that of a café available at home or work.

The most popular way to achieve that café-esque cup is through the use of capsule coffee machines which have quickly found their way to the counter tops of workplaces and homeplaces around the world. 

This colossal growth has enforced yet another industry of convenience, which has in turn increased our contribution to the ever-growing landfills. The problem is, these machines rely on disposable coffee pods which are used multiple times a day and promptly chucked out or ‘recycled’ away. This creates unnecessary waste from cradle-to-grave as these pods made of a valuable energy-intensive resource which is difficult to recycle and will never biodegrade. 

[THE PROBLEM WITH RECYCLING] 

The rise in recycling has allowed us all to feel like conscious consumers. The idea that we’re ‘saving the planet’ when we rid ourselves of something through recycling,makes us feels good, as it should. But the reality is, we’re just feeding, or rather chasing, the dragon of consumption.

Recycling of single-use products like water bottles and coffee pods is slightly missing the point. Though it is better than sending stuff to the landfill, it misconstrues the importance of cutting down on the amount of stuff that we need to throw away or recycle. It should be a last resort for tackling waste, not a solution. Diverting pollutive products from the landfill is great, but we need to reduce those diversions as well.  

To recycle a coffee pod (k-cup), you have to take them apart and separate the plastic, compost the coffee grounds and dispose of the top (the aluminium top goes to the landfill). The majority of people who use coffee pods don’t do that, which is why an estimated 10 billion plastic pods went to our landfills in 2015, including those from brands heroed for their ‘recycling’ like Nespresso.

[ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES] 
*Of the coffee pods alone, the environmental issues coffee itself is a whole other story which I’ll cover in the next few days


Plastic is a byproduct of oil, which is a non-renewable and environmentally evil resource to be pulling disposable products from. They are not biodegradable, and not recyclable - yes, those non-transparent jerks at Nespresso lied to you, dudes - as did Nespresso’s biggest rival, Keurig, are just about impossible to recycle.

These two coffee pod moguls, along with their numerous competitors and all those who have followed the scent of profit behind them are responsible (as are we consumers) for the fact that in a single year, if placed end-to-end, coffee pods would circle the globe 10.5 times.  

[HUMAN HEALTH ISSUES]
You don’t want to heat plastic and consume something it is ported in, EVER. Heating plastic allows harmful chemicals and carcinogens housed within plastic (like BPA, BPF, BPS, polystyrene and phthalates) to seep out into your body, contributing or causing hormone imbalance, weight gain, and fertility problems.

There are some pods which claim to be BPA free (Keurig for one) yet they still tested positive for estrogenic activity.

To top off the nastiness we already know about plastic, the aluminium which covers the pods is also a health concern, as heating up aluminium and consuming something housed by that aluminium has been linked to and suggested as the cause for Alzheimers, depression, anxiety, autism and even autoimmune disease.

To further deter, the machines themselves are prime growing for environmental mould, mildew, algae and biofilms due to the deliciously dark, warm, moist environment created in the internal tank and lines. Yum yum.

[THE SOLUTION - ETHICAL BEAN COFFEE]
Like in fashion, there are companies who are moving in the direction of making their products compostable, but it is not the big companies whose names you most recognize, it’s the rising stars of the conscious community who have begun their business with a combined foundation of
transparency, ethics, philanthropy, humanity and ecology. These are the businesses we need to be supporting, not the ones who put millions into attempting to convince you their wrongs are rights.

ETHICAL BEAN, a coffee company from Canada (they also sell in the USA), is one of those companies we ought to support instead. They’re creating 100% certified compostable single serve pods. Their pods are made from coffee bean chaff and other renewable materials, the entire pod can be thrown directly into the compost bin and will completely break down in a municipal composter in less than 84 days.

The company has been Carbon Neutral for nearly 10 years and produce their coffee under Fairtrade regulations, ensuring child labour (a huge problem in the coffee industry) is prohibited. The coffee itself is Certified Organic as well, which means you won’t be gulping down pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilisers and fungicides with your morning cup of jo (hooray!).

They also give back in an inspiring way with a portion of their profits donated to Child Aid and Project Somos. Their Child Aid program helps Guatemalan children pay for their school needs, transportation and health care, and Project Somos supports orphaned and abandoned children as well as at-risk women who live in a sustainable village in Guatemala as well.

Ethical Bean also sells coffee which is not in pods and though the packaging for beans and grinds does not biodegrade (because foil-lined bags don’t keep beans fresh), they do offer a coffee bag return which are upcycled into tote bags or donated to schools for arts and crafts materials. For every 12 bags you return, they’ll give you one 340g bag of coffee in return.

[WHERE TO BUY?] 
You can purchase ETHICAL BEAN products on their website HERE or shop on Amazon by clicking HERE.

[I AIN'T FINISHED] 
Delving into this piece on coffee pods has opened a can of worms for me in terms of the ethics and environmental issues around coffee which were astounding. I’m going to work through the information I found in the coming posts this week to share with you, but in the meantime, some of my fellow Ethical Writer’s Coalition homies have also shared stories on Ethical Bean and all their green and gracious goodness, which you can click through to read below. They’re all conscious creatures worth following, so don’t let this click be your last to them!

1. 6 steps to a sustainable coffee routine with ethical bean coffee, Sustainably Chic
2. The 4 Biggest Problems of Conventional Coffee, And How Ethical Bean Solves Them, EcoCult
3. An Interview with Ethical Bean, Let's Be Fair
4. 3 Steps to a Stress-Free Morning (when you're not a morning person), Terumah
5. Easy & Ethical Cold Brew Coffee, Gina Zammit
6. From Crop to Cup, Ethical Bean Coffee is Committed to Transparency & Sustainability, My Kind Closet
7. Celebrate Local - Conscious Chatter, AWEAR World

* [SPONSORED POST] Please note, this post is sponsored by Ethical Bea. I don't receive any editorial direction from brands with whom I work. Opinions and story substance are a collection of my own convoluted thoughts. Supporting brands like Ethical Bean helps support the likes of Leotie Lovely and the rest of the sustainable community which in turn helps the community as a whole to to thrive, flourish and grow! 
* RETAIL LOCATIONS: You can now find Ethical Bean in CANADA London Drugs, Save on Foods, Price Smart, Overwaitea Foods, Loblaws, Buy Low Foods, Your Independent Grocer (YIG), Nesters, Choices Markets, Sobeys, Amazon.ca, and ethicalbean.comUSA  Earth Fare, Lunds and Byerlys, PCC Natural Markets, Amazon.com. 


PHOTOS: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
SOURCES: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

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