Do Your Part: Think before you drink coffee

MONDAY, NOV. 7, 2011

Are you someone who savors that morning cup of coffee? Do you enjoy the smell and taste of a freshly brewed pot?

You’ll enjoy it even more if you do your part to seek out fair trade and organic coffees. And fall is the perfect time to talk about why it’s critical to seek out coffees that are cultivated with people and the planet in mind.

The Fair Trade label is an important one. It certifies that the people working to produce your coffee are paid a fair price and are working in good conditions.

Since many coffee producers are small-scale organizations in poorer countries, the Fair Trade program works to connect them directly to coffee importers around the world. This allows the producers to foster long-lasting relationships that will help sustain their coffee businesses and improve their communities.

Seeking out organic coffees is another important decision. Look for the USDA organic seal and you’ll know that your coffee beans were grown without pesticides that can pollute our land and water.

This also means the farmers working that land and the people living in the surrounding communities won’t come into contact with those toxic chemicals, either.

There’s another thing to look for when shopping for the best beans: If you can, seek out shade-grown coffees. This means the valuable land used to grow the coffee wasn’t clear cut, which allows the natural habitat for birds and other animals to remain intact.

So what if you don’t brew your own and instead go to a coffee shop to get that morning jolt? There are still plenty of ways to do your part on the go.

First, ask where the beans they use come from and how the crops were cultivated. Next, bring your own coffee mug instead of using a disposable one. Many coffee spots will offer you a discount if you bring in your own cup.

Many times, coffee shops will also give away their coffee grounds for free. Those grounds are rich in nitrogen, making them an effective addition to any compost pile.

Something as small as your morning cup of coffee can actually make a big impact on our environment. Do your part as you enjoy your next cup o’ joe knowing that you picked the perfect blend for you and the planet.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, an author and the founder of DoYourPart, everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to terri@doyourpart.com.

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