Most of us start our day with a cup of coffee; maybe we’ll have it in mid-morning or even sometimes throughout the day. But it’s safe to say that coffee is an essential part of our daily routine. Essentially freshen you up and keeps you active throughout the day.
Making coffee has become so much easy since the invention of coffee pods. The coffee will be brewed up in a minute or two and it sure beats waiting in long lines of Starbucks trying to get your coffee.
Coffee pods or capsules are filled enough for a single cup of caffeinated beverage. They consist of small plastic containers that are fitted with an aluminum foil lid. Once you’ve used them they are then disposed of in the trash.
The coffee pods have been around since the 90s. However, the boom occurred in 2012 when the number of people using coffee pods jumped to a staggering 15% of all coffee-drinkers. Today, this number has risen to 24%.
USA Today stated that about 40% of Americans purchased a single cup coffee pods at some point in their life. Convenience is the major reason why people choose to use coffee pods. Companies manufacture them because it makes coffee more accessible to a larger market.
Environmental Impact of Coffee pods and Capsules
It’s true, coffee pods are highly convenient, but they are also terrible for the environment.
In fact they are so bad for the environment; K-cup inventor John Sylvan regrets ever making them in the first place.
The problem is that conventional coffee pods made by most companies can’t be recycled. One of the major reasons is them being very small in size to recycle in the first place. It is difficult to sort them either manually or using a sorting machine, which means most of them end up in the trash. WE HAVE A SOLUTION FOR THIS! Hint: Aluminum.
The standard coffee pods are non-biodegradable meaning that most of them end up being dumped in landfills. A research in 2014 estimated that there are enough coffee pods in landfills to go around the earth 10.5 times. This figure has gone up to 12 times in 2018.
But then what do we do? How can we be more environmentally sound while having our quick morning cup of coffee?
Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Coffee Pods
The good news is that we are starting to see many convenient and eco-friendly options available on the market. This is being done so you can have your coffee and still be environment-friendly.
Convenience is key to any major innovation; when it’s environmentally-sound, that makes it all the better!
I’m not going to tell you to stop drinking coffee; Coffee is the reason I’m able to write 15 hours a day! But we can take some steps to ensure we can be as eco-friendly as possible.
Let’s look at some eco-friendly ways to have your usual cup of coffee.
You can now choose to buy plastic or stainless steel coffee pods that can be reusable. Eco-friendly coffee machines are also a good choice with reusable coffee pods and can help you be more sustainable (more on that ahead). You can easily enjoy your coffee; all you have to do is clean out the pod after, for reuse.
I use vinegar to clean out the pod, you can also use water. You don’t need to scrub the sieve as that may damage the screen. I’ve been reusing this product since 2019, still works!
P.S: If I consider drinking one cup of coffee per day using single-use pods that cost $0.70/pod (and I’m low-balling here); I’ve saved up to 400 bucks!
Compostable materials are very useful. Sadly 20-30% of Americans throw away compostable materials such as yard waste or food scraps. It’s very easy to start compost bins inside your house or outdoors in your backyard.
Try to find pods made of paper, compostable inks or other biodegradable products so you can toss the pod into your compost pile.
This is the compost-able coffee pod we use at the office; we even got a ‘compost-chute’ installed with the garbage-chute so it’s easier to transport them to the compost bin installed in the garden.
Compostable pods save you the extra step of cleaning out your reusable pods, be environmentally-sound and benefit your garden at the same time.
Are coffee pods recyclable?
The most potent and green choice is to reuse or compost your coffee pods. However, recycling is an excellent option rather than throwing pods straight into trash. So, YES you can recycle your pods.
Some parts of the pods are recyclable, although it takes time to take them apart. However, It’s still more convenient to use pods made from 100 percent recyclable plastic. The problem this kind of Polypropylene plastics have is that currently only 3% of it is recycled. Fortunately, that number is rising.
However, recycled polypropylene does not hold all of it’s properties like aluminum does.
Companies are also using aluminum coffee capsules. Aluminum is 100% recyclable (P.S: 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today). A major example would be Nespresso! Here’s an example of their coffee pod.
They’ve also provided a video so that it’s easier for you to recycle your Nespresso coffee pods.
How to get that Nespresso recycling bag?
- You can add it to you basket when shopping on Nespresso.com
- Ask for it at a Nespresso Boutique
- Call them at 0800 442 442.
Other Nespresso pod recycling options include; Drop-off at their Boutiques, Deposit at CollectPlus locations or ask them for collection from your home.
The Eco-friendly pod alternatives were only to guide those who find it difficult to move away from pods. Coffee was being made long before pods came into play. You can even wish to change the habit now and go back to being pod-less and waste-free.
Pod-less, single-brew makers
To meet the demand of people that wish to have eco-friendly coffee makers that don’t need pods, numerous appliances have been created.
One such company leading the way in pod-less, single brew coffee machines is Sloby. Here’s an example of their machine.
You are brewing a pod-free, single-serve coffee; however, you can occasionally choose to add coffee and water to the respective compartments.
Low tech solutions
Many coffee lovers that have time to spare, can choose to make their cups of coffee with French presser or pour-over brewers.
This solution is very easy and the final results are delicious. You are still brewing a single-serve of coffee and only need to worry about composting or reusing the grounds afterwards.