Today is an opportunity to think about your impact on the planet. I thought I would jump on the bandwagon with maybe some “less obvious” suggestions to minimize your own impact on the planet. Those who know me know that I like to think beyond the obvious, and this topic is no exception. So here are a few of my suggestions.
1. I need to start with a coffee-related topic or two. Consumers are now very knowledgable about organic and other certified coffees. What many don’t realize is that roasting itself is a contributor to enviornmental issues, with smoke emitted and energy consumed. We partnered with US Roaster Corp to develop a cool new “green” roasting system, the first of its kind. The up-front costs are substantially higher, but it’s a long term positive investment. And there are better coffee packaging alternatives (we use biodegradable, compostable bags) – ask your roaster if they have gone green!
2. A lot of places tell you to use unbleached paper filters for your coffee. How about ditching the paper all together? Use a gold filter in your drip maker, or go to a French press (you’ll probably be happier with the coffee, too).
3. If you usually discard your excess coffee, use it to water plants instead. You do need to be aware of acid sensitive plants, but many plants will tolerate and thrive on coffee.
4. Compost your coffee grinds (OK, that one was obvious). Make sure you add some lime (the stone, not the fruit) to your compost.
Now on to some non-coffee suggestions:
5. Feed your pets your scraps. Believe it or not, pet food, like baby food, is a relatively recent invention. You do need to apply some intelligence to this, of course. Read up on the foods that are good for your pets and feed them your cast offs. Our guinea pigs eat better than many people on pea pods, carrot peels and tops, strawberry tops, wilted parsley, outer lettuce and cabbage leaves, and many other veggie trimmings. Our dogs get fish skins, sweet potato skins, excess rice, chicken giblets, spent grain treats made from home beer brewing byproducts and more.
6. Think about more things you can compost – napkins, tea bags, natural paper, paper lawn bags, many egg cartons, cotton string, pet litter (usually), and more!
7. Think before you flush. Maybe disgusting to some, but truly not necessary to flush every time as we learned during our recent drought.
8. Wear your clothes multiple times between launderings. As much as you can until they are really dirty. Saves water, soap and energy, and your clothes last longer.
9. Re-use your paper goods. Brown bags are especially good to re-use. Carry your lunch in them. Use them to make roasted peppers (put the peppers in the bag are grilling to allow the skins to steam loose). Give your egg cartons to an egg farmer.
10. Tear paper goods in half. Frequently half a napkin or paper towel is sufficient.
11. Take your used hotel soap with you – you showered once and you’re going to leave it? Wrap it in your dirty clothes to get it home.
12. If you use disposable plastic water bottles, refill them.
Happy Earth Day!