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
According to Boston Globes, "TWENTY MILLION TREES ARE CUT DOWN ANNUALLY TO MANUFACTURE 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.
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.
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.