We know that lawyers are great at critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and yes…arguing. There’s something else that lawyers are well known for – drinking coffee. Here at TSL, we don’t want to just focus on big picture building renovations or big law initiatives (even though these things are important!), we also want to provide a few reasonable tips on how lawyers can be more sustainable in their daily lives. Coffee, in case you didn’t know, is a great way to do this. A few months back, TSL highlighted a partnership between the BBA and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to recycle used k-cups. This week we want to provide some suggestions for making your daily cup (or let’s be honest…cups) easier on the environment. Here we want to show some ways for the individual to make a difference.
First, some stats. Now I am sure you believe us that altering your coffee consumption can make a difference, but just hear us out. TSL turned to the National Coffee Association and The Specialty Coffee Association of America to find out how much coffee Americans drink:
- Over 50% of Americans over 18 years of age drink coffee every day, which represents 150 million daily drinkers.
- 30 million American adults drink specialty coffee beverages daily; which include a mocha, latte, espresso, café mocha, cappuccino, frozen/iced coffee beverages, etc.
- Among coffee drinkers the average consumption in the United States is 3.1 cups of coffee per day, 400 million cups of coffee per day making the United States the leading consumer of coffee in the world.
Enough stats. You get it, Americans drink lots of coffee. So what can you do to reduce the environmental impact of your daily dose (or doses) of caffeine? TSL has three suggestions:
1) Make your own.
Making your own coffee is more sustainable in a few ways, but for the sake of space, let’s talk about 2.
- When making for yourself, you have more control over the amount of coffee you make, water you use and waste that is created. At home you can use a permanent coffee filter rather than using other filters (and they are cheap, as you can see) and you can compost your grounds for that garden you were thinking of starting this summer. Ever wondered what coffee shops do with all the extra coffee that is made? You shouldn’t. It gets tossed.
- When brewing from home, you also have the ability to choose which coffee you buy and make (duh). The reason TSL mentions this is because buying fair trade coffee is the way to go. Fair trade coffee 1) was grown and harvested under fair labor conditions, 2) is purchased directly from growers/producer groups, eliminating the middle man and allowing the farmer to compete in the global market and 3) is made by farmers and workers who invest in community projects like scholarship programs and quality improvement training.
Plus, when you make your own coffee that means you will:
2) Use a reusable cup or mug. To be honest, this one is fairly obvious. We don’t even need to do the math of what impact 400 paper, plastic or even *gasp!* styrofoam cups per day can have on our environment. So if you want a reusable cup or mug that gets the job done, look no further. TSL himself uses a biodegradable Gordon Sinclair travel mug (that you can find here) and a porcelain mug for drinking coffee at the desk. The problem with the travel mug is that you can’t microwave it. If that is a deal breaker, you can get other types of reusable mugs. If you want to go on the cheaper side, try something like this for 5 bucks. If you want to get fancy, go porcelain designed with some of these options.
3) Now even TSL knows we can’t convince everyone to swear off coffee shops forever. If you must head to your nearest Dunkin, Starbucks or Au Bon Pain, so be it. But just for us, ask them to fill up your reusable mug instead (Starbucks even offers a 10 cent discount). If you’re an iced coffee person, try one of these. Whatever you do, please don’t be one of those people who asks for a separate styrofoam cup to cover you iced coffee so your hands don’t get cold. Buy a coffee sleeve, they are cheap and you can use them 100 times over. You can get super artsy with these or basic here. Heck, you can make them yourself if you really want.
Just remember, even out of 400 million, every cup makes a difference.