How is your everyday coffee affecting the environment? By Sheikh Noohery

Many of us, in CRLS, buy drinks from Starbucks and Broadway Market every morning.

But do we stop to think how this small decision affects the environment?

Affect of Coffee

From production, to preparation to disposal, drip filter coffee can produce 150 grams of carbon dioxide per cup. To put it into perspective, that is the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as nearly 4 million passenger cars each year. Conventional coffee also takes a lot of water to produce.

Affect of Paper Cups


Even though many people think paper cups are better than styrofoam cups, they are basically the same when it comes to their impact on the environment. A 2006 study done in the Netherlands compared styrofoam and paper cups in ten categories. It concluded that paper cups were less polluting in 5 of 10 categories and that polystyrene was better in the other five.

From meeting point blog
From the Stanford Alumni Article
It takes approximately 8000 gallons of water to make 10,000 paper cups.
Disposable paper cups are not recyclable.

Paper cups are lined with polyethylene so it can hold liquids. This makes disposable paper cups not recyclable.

Also bad for health.
From Legal Signs Website

Also coffee cup lids are made of plastic #6, also known as polystyrene. It is known to leach styrene, the newest member on the US List of Carcinogens. A better alternative is using a silicone or BPA-free lid that can be used repeatedly.

The glue used to hold those paper cups together partially dissolves when the coffee is poured into the cup, releasing trace amounts of toxins, such as melamine, into the coffee.

What Can We Do?


Look for three certification labels: fair trade, organic and shade grown.

Fair Trade: Fair trade coffee is certified by Fairtrade USA to ensure that producers and workers are receiving fair prices for their coffee. This annual certification evaluates environmental practices, such as sustainability and banning agrochemicals and genetically modified crops. Look for this label at your local coffee shop or on your bag of coffee.

Organic: Organic coffee is certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This certification is focused on the agricultural process and it requires that at least 95 percent of the ingredients in coffee are organic. There has been some controversy over this label because it allows certain chemicals to be used.

Shade Grown: This technique maintains forest cover over coffee plantations. It can provide habitat for birds, including many migratory species that spend part of their year in North America, and also conserves broader biodiversity and prevents erosion. Two organizations, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the Rainforest Alliance, provide information about certifications. They also provide guides of stores and online retailers that sell certified products: Rainforest Alliance Marketplace, Bird Friendly Coffee stores and online retailers.


It is pretty simple to deal with the paper cup issue: use reusable coffee cups or thermos.

The JOCO Cup
BYO Cups

Works Cited

"Rainforest Alliance for Business." Home | Rainforest Alliance for Business. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.

Sa., Karolina, and Olivka. A cartoon where a newspaper is cutting down trees. Digital image. Meeting Point Blog. Blogger, 28 Nov. 2008. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.

"Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center." Smithsonian's National Zoo. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.

"6 Reasons to Use a Reusable Coffee Cup." MightyNest. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.

Elizabeth Gehrman. "Why Paper Cups Just Aren’t Greener - The Boston Globe." N.p., 02 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.

Wylie, Bethany. "Mugs vs. Paper Cups: Nitty-gritty." Stanford Magazine - Article. Stanford Alumni, n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.

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