One of the most wasteful things we participate in as coffee drinkers is disposable coffee cups. I have never been accused of being a tree hugger, but as an outdoorsman, conservation of the environment around me is super important. Other than double-walled-stainless-steel-vacuum-insulated-tumblers, there is no greater cultural artifact from this time than the single use disposable coffee cup. We sort of ruined the coffee culture that existed with the fast-coffee mantra of today. Coffee was meant to be a destination, a break, a pause in the day to slow down and enjoy. We weren’t supposed to be slamming triple-shot-sugar-drinks from a drive-through on our way to someplace to which we are already late. #coffeelover
Back to my point, about a year ago, we introduced a super cool product to the market. A single use paper filter bag that makes pour overs possible on the mobile. Camping, hiking and travel were the idea. A beautiful cup of coffee, anywhere, was the goal. They are IDEAL for hiking when waste and weight are huge considerations. The paper filters could be buried, burned or packed out. (I recommend tearing off the coarse paper hanger and trashing) We tested and filmed instructional videos for our Instagram page. Combined, these coffee making videos have hundreds of thousands of views. That’s where the trouble started.
[Enter: Virtue Signaling Trolls]
VST: hey Texas, these seem wasteful, how irresponsible of you. You so called outdoorsmen, always trashing the environment. What a terrible idea for our trash problems.
TXPO: lets talk about that. Do you buy coffee from a drive through window? Do you use a paper cup at work or from a coffee shop? Do you make coffee at home in a Keurig?
Paper cups generate 10 of thousands of tons of waste, 2.5 billion cups a year. If you recycle your paper cup, you may feel smart in front of your friends, but you are in actuality consigning it to a landfill. Paper cups have a dirty secret despite the recycling logos printed on them. Paper cups are made of more than just paper, to make them waterproof they are coated with a thin layer of plastic. To recycle them you must separate the liner from the cup. Currently, there are only a few companies capable of doing this efficiently. The ceramic or porcelain cup is the obvious alternative. Taking in to account the energy and costs to manufacture and clean, how many time would you have to use it to “break even” [Source Martin Hawking] Depending on the way it is washed, his research showed you would have to use the mug 50 times to equal what it takes to make a single Styrofoam cup. Reusable plastic travel cups are slightly better. They can claim use of 15 times to break even. Biodegradable cups also are on the market. The costs to manufacture are higher and you must specifically dispose of them in a unique channel for them to break down. Simply tossing in the dirt won’t work.
99% of all coffee filters are compostable and will biodegrade sometimes even in your compost bin (what, you don’t have one?). Coffee grounds are awesome for your yard and garden projects. The grounds are an organic material that helps your soil construction and aids in bio activity. If you Chemex, pour-over, even drip, you can compost them (they do take a while). If you kcup (shame on you), but there are reusable pods, we have them in stock. I prefer a French press, 100% reusable and no paper filter. (we talk about paper filters vs other brew methods in a past blog) Recently, I have taken to the glass pour over kits we brought to market. Stainless mesh filter retains the oils and no waste. The point is, coffee is trashy if you are sucking down moka-whats-it’s on the go, enjoy your coffee from your favorite coffee cup and do your best to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.