William H. Schlesinger: Ways To Reduce The Environmental Impact Of Your Morning Coffee

From: ehn.org

If you are like me, you can’t imagine starting your day without a couple of cups of strong coffee.

It jump-starts the mind. Coffee consumption is growing faster than the human population, with annual consumption now topping 10 million tons per year. But, just as I have considered for milk and booze, coffee has a bunch of environmental impacts that begin with how it is grown and extend to how we dispose of it in the environment.

The impacts of coffee production on tropical forests have been discussed for decades. Most tropical ecologists believe that the growth and harvest of coffee in the shade—that is, under an intact canopy of tropical forest—is not too bad for the environment.

However, when the price of coffee rises, so does that rate of deforestation to provide for sun-grown coffee in the tropics. Sun-grown coffee results in the loss of birds common in mature tropical forests.

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