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 What Can I Do?

Posted on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010

This month's 'What Can I Do?' takes on that morning beverage favored by millions: coffee. Whether you like to brew it or buy it, drink it hot or cold, or take it with cream or sugar, there are ways to make your daily serving more sustainable.

One area of sustainability often overlook yet very important is sustainaning yourself. Individuals who can live balanced and sustainably in their own lives are likely better equipped to promote sustainability to outsiders. Moderation is a crucial part of sustaining yourself. Think you're drinking too much coffee? Consider reducing your intake. Doctors say if you're drinking coffee and skipping out on other nutrient-filled beverages, such as fruit juice or milk --or sleep--you are not really sustaining yourself. Most experts agree: 4-5 cups a day should be the max. For more information and tips for how to cut back, visit the Mayo Clinic's website

Bring a reusable mug or cup next time you buy coffee out. Most chain coffee houses and cafes offer discounts if you bring your own cup - Starbucks will knock $0.10 off your beverage if it's served in a reusable mug. Some even offer to store it for you in between visits. Bringing a reusable mug cuts down on waste generated by disposable cups.

Make sure to recycle your coffee containers. Almost all tin cans, and most plastic ones, can be recycled, so look into whether yours can be tossed in with your other recyclables. As an alternative to recycling, put them to use as containers for kitchenware or baking ingredients, such as sugar and flour, as flower pots, or a variety of other creative uses.

Respect workers' rights and environmental justice by making smart consumer decisions. Look for fair trade and organic coffee. Many of your favorite coffee chains have taken significant steps to make sure their operations and sources are sustainable. Check out what's being done by Starbucks, Peet's, Coffee Bean, and Dunkin Donuts.

Compiled by Hannah Slocum, '11, Sustainability Intern for Student Initiatives.

Tags: Food, Take Action