People are looking for all the ways they can reduce their carbon footprint: driving electric cars; buying alternative home fuel. One small way to lower one’s carbon footprint gaining popularity is seeking out sustainable coffee shops.
A sustainable coffee shop goes beyond being a coffee shop that recycles its garbage. They are committed to keeping their waste and carbon footprint very low. If you’re trying to find a coffee shop committed to sustainability then here is everything you need to know from what to look for in such a shop to how to find one.
What a Sustainable Coffee Shop Does
A sustainable coffee shop will engage in practices that set it apart from regular coffee shops. Here are some of the practices that you can immediately notice about a coffee shop to tell you whether or not it is running on a sustainable model.
An Emphasis on Recyclable Materials
One of the most obvious signs of a sustainable coffee shop will be a reliance on recyclable materials. So many coffee shops utilize coffee cups that are made of paper, save for a thin veneer of plastic that coats the cup’s interior. A sustainable coffee shop would be using totally recyclable coffee cups.
Instead of plastic trays and cutlery, they may place an emphasis on cardboard trays or wooden cutlery. They would also be using absolutely no Styrofoam as it is a non-recyclable material. You will likely not find any plastic drink stirrers either. For stirring you’ll find they use good old-fashioned metal or wood spoons.
Contributing to Recycling Efforts
One of the easiest things to notice about a coffee shop to determine whether or not it is sustainable is if there is an active emphasis on recycling. It does not simply mean that there are recycling bins, but that they are giving clear instructions on what items you have in your order that can be placed in those bins.
Bring Your Own Cup Incentives
One mark of a coffee shop that is dedicated to the ideals of sustainability is the BYOC (bring your own cup) incentive. There are coffee shops that offer a discount to customers willing to bring in their own coffee cups rather than use the disposable options from the shop. This practice not only saves you a little bit of money, but also water.
Do They Use Sustainable Coffee Brands?
There are numerous brands of coffee on the market that have made a commitment to being sustainable and environmentally friendly. You may have to ask around at different shops to purchase their supply from sustainable brands.
What makes coffee sustainable?
A coffee brand is sustainable if it makes the living conditions for the environment and people who cultivate it better. The sad truth of the coffee industry is that many of the farmers who grow and cultivate coffee face poverty. Buying from brands that pay farms fairly is an important marker of sustainability.
Coffee brands that are made from coffee farmed on land that promotes biodiversity are also important. Most coffee farms tend to rely on pesticides and other chemicals that can harm local wildlife. A sustainable farm finds concessions to promote biodiversity so that the growing of coffee beans is a process that does no harm.
Another mark of a sustainable coffee shop is whether or not they place emphasis on using paperless receipts. If they participate in compost programs in your area is also a fantastic sustainable move they will likely make. They will also use either reduced lighting or LED-based lighting to cut back on energy use and promote energy efficiency. There are even coffee makers and espresso machines that are designed to use minimal amounts of energy.
How do I find a sustainable coffee shop?
As with most things these days, if you want to find something you usually want to start with the internet. Coffee shops with sustainability as a point of conduct will typically advertise themselves as such. You can also call around to various coffee shops in your area and ask them directly if they are sustainable. However, this is a benefit that is typically only available to those who live in big cities.
The sad truth is that if you live in a small town, then your local coffee shop is still your best source of coffee. Driving a considerable distance to find a coffee shop that is sustainable burns more gas, which goes against the entire point of sustainability. However, if you are going on vacation or traveling for some other reason you can always have sustainable shops marked for your destinations.
There are also online resources that can help you find sustainable coffee shops. These lists are always updated as shops open and close, so you can stay up to date on the locations you may want to visit. Social media is also a great, real-time solution to finding sustainable coffee shop options.
What You Can Do
If you do not have any sustainable coffee shop options in your area, you may feel somewhat defeated on the subject. That does not mean that you should give up. If you don’t mind stirring the (coffee) pot a little bit, then you can start asking your local coffee shop what they do to be sustainable. Use it as a conversation starter. Make suggestions. If your local shop does not have a “bring your own cup” incentive, then suggest one.
The most important thing you can do is get the word about sustainability and what it can do for the planet, and how even your morning cup of coffee plays a part. The more that people learn about sustainable coffee, the more likely they will be to ask for it in their local coffee shop.